Improve Your Photos with a Killer Composition

By Amy

Jul 29

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killer composition

Killer Composition

Composition is a term I’m sure you’ve heard, but may not know exactly what it is.

Composition refers to the arrangement of the subject(s) in a photo.

There are MANY different ways or theories behind composition!!

Why is it important?

Because a photo’s composition is seriously one of the most important aspects in making it visually appealing.   

Rock an Oldie but a Goodie with the Rule of Thirds

Whether or not you knew what it was called, the Rule of Thirds is EVERYWHERE!

Pay attention next time to a billboard, your TV show or any print advertisement!

The Rule of Thirds is all around you!  

So what is it?

The Rule of Thirds is simply a tic tac toe or hashtag symbol placed over your photo.

In fact, your camera probably has this setting as a built in option.

Go ahead, take a peek and enable it!

What you’ll see are 4 lines that intersect to create 4 points.

These 4 points are SUPER important.

You’ll want to place whatever is most important on one of these points.

If it’s a person place their eye or nose on a point.

If you have multiple props, place the most important one at one of the points.

Why do you need to align it with one of these points?

The belief is that by following this rule, your photos will have more appeal and create more interest.

Oh! And don’t forget…

If your photo is of a landscape, try to line up the horizon line with one of the horizontal lines.

Which one?

Well, that depends on what you want to focus on!

Do you want more of the sky or more of the ground in the photo?

What’s your emphasis on?

But a BIG no-no, is having the horizon line dead center in the middle of the photo.

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Aren’t those little feet adorable?

I love little baby feet!

So, see how the most important aspects of the photo is on the top left point?

Which of the 4 points you use will be based on the rest of the photo.

Had I lined the ring up with either lower point, the bottom of her foot would’ve been chopped off.

And, had I lined it up with the top right point, I wouldn’t placed her foot snug up against the edge or chopped off again.

Since, her foot and the ring are the only important aspects of the photo, I don’t want to lose any portion of them.

Rules are meant to be broken

Sooooo, ya know how I just said…ALWAYS line up the main subject with one of the four points?

Well, ya, about that….the rules are meant to be broken.

I’m sure you’ve seen it done.

Are you thinking about that stunning photo you saw where there’s a walkway coming out of the bottom, center of the image…

At the end of the walkway, in the center of the photo, is a tiny island with a tree (or whatever)…

This photo has beautiful blue-green seas all around and nothing else…

Can you picture it?

Yeah, like I said, rules are meant to be broken…occasionally.

A photo like this is trying to convey the vastness of the surroundings or comparing size.

It usually is a pretty simplistic photo and is filled with symmetry.

This type of photo will only speaks volumes when composed this way.

The rule of thirds, just won’t cut it.

 

Leading lines

Thinking about that island photo again…

It actually consists of 2 types of compositional rules.

The first is centering and the second is leading lines.

Specifically, the walkway leads your eye directly to what was most important…the island.

Whether they are strong or subtle lines it doesn’t matter, the viewer will be subconsciously pulled directly to what you want them to see.

Obvious things that can be used include a fence row, railroad tracks, a hallway, a road, a walkway, etc.

Less obvious items include a row of trees in the background, the clouds, or any item relevant to your blog.  

If the obvious things I’ve mentioned aren’t relevant to your niche… 

What then?

Consider what types of props you’ll be using and see what could be used to lead the viewer’s eye to your main subject.

Maybe that object could be a pen, pencil or even a piece of sports equipment.  

Be CREATIVE and look for them!!  

composition

Do you see in this photo how all of the pipes lead towards the girl?

Yep, leading lines…

White space

White space is a very popular compositional technique.

White space is empty space in your photo where you can place text.

Still try to incorporate the rule of thirds and/or leading lines into the composition…

Just leave empty space for adding your message.

composition

 

Extra Details

When you consider your composition there are a few other deets we need to think about.

  • Don’t have your subject(s) nearly touching the edge of the photo.
  • If your subject needs to be really close to the edge, you’re better off cropping a significant portion of it off.
  • Cropping a tiny portion of your subject off will feel accidental and wrong, making the viewer uncomfortable.

 

Perspective…change it up!

The typical angle that everyone sees is from a standing adult perspective, AND IT’S BORING!

Want to increase the appeal and make it pop?

Change things up and get creative!  

Get low! Get low! Get low!

This will highlight details near the ground and close to camera’s lens.

If you got low to the ground outside, you would have a view you wouldn’t normally see, right?

Now that’s interesting!

Know what else it does?

It makes whatever is closest to the lens and anything above lens’ level look larger!

(Take note!! Anyone self conscious of their weight, don’t have pictures taken at an upward angle!)

composition

Sweet Side Shot!

Another pleasing angle, is a side shot.

Again, this is typically taken from a lower angle which is still out of the norm from your everyday.

It looks through the scene and off into the distance or to a backdrop.

It again will have things closer appear larger and things farther away looking smaller, but it again is an interesting angle that will bring interest and appeal to your photos.

Get high with flatlays!

A VERY popular perspective shot lately has been using flatlays.

So many people are using these in their blogs.

Have you seen them?

The photo is not much different than a normal photo.

It still includes the props for whatever their topic is.

It still uses the compositional rules we’ve already discussed…

The main difference is that the perspective is unique.

It’s taken from directly overhead and the props are laid out flat.

There’s really not too much more to it except, be sure to be directly overhead and not on an angle.

Being off will make it look a little distorted, so take several practice shots.

Want more help and guidance?

composition

Join my free Facebook group to interact with likeminded people, get guidance and ask questions!

If you haven’t already, follow me on Instagram for additional tips as well!

What did you learn?  

Please leave me a comment below!  


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About the Author

Amy is the owner extraordinaire at Learn Blog Photography and Amy Paris Photography. She's a single mom to an amazing teenage son. She's passionate about photography and skiing (downhill), the faster the better! Sign up for a FREE 30-min call to light up your photos & biz! bit.ly/2udzBXB

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