Composition of a photograph the 4 principles you need to know

The Basics to Know about Composition and understanding Composition

The composition of a photograph is one of the most complex things in photography

The composition of a photograph is the most important thing to learn if you want to take powerful captivating photos. It is not just related to the rule of thirds. In fact, the rule of thirds just makes a small part of it. You can never become a good photographer until you have learned about the rules of composition. It is such an extensive topic that a complete book can be written on it. In fact, many books have been written about it. 

If you are just beginning out in photography or a seasoned photographer, it is never too late to learn the basics of composition. Here are some important things that will help you compose your photos better.

Composition of a photograph the 4 principles you need to know

Photo by Bess Hamiti

Composition – What is it?

Composition, in its simplest terms, means the structure of your photograph. It is concerned with arranging all the elements in a photograph in a way that they make or break the image. Composing a photograph is a necessary thing to do regardless of how great the light or other elements might be. There are many ways you can change the composition of the photo. Use a different lens, move closer or farther away from the subject, move right or left. It is also important to pay attention to the various components you want to include in the photo. You will be able to present your subject in the most effective manner if you are able to get the composition right. In other words, tell a great story.

Composition of a photograph the 4 principles you need to know

Composition – The Elements

There are three main components that make up the composition of a photograph. These are:

  • Shapes
  • Lines and
  • Points

These are the most fundamental aspects of composition. All the components of your image are in fact shapes, points, and lines. There are some very complex ones while others are easy to understand. If you are able to grasp the idea of these shapes, lines, and points, you will be able to compose the photograph better.

Composition of a photograph the 4 principles you need to know

Intent

The idea when taking photos is not to follow a set composition blindly in all your photos but to pick it intentionally. Intent plays a major role in finding the right composition. If you bring in your intent every time you click a photograph, you will be able to see a marked difference in the quality of your photos. And, you will be putting in a more conscious effort every time you pick the camera to take a photograph because it will always be at the back of your mind.

Composition of a photograph the 4 principles you need to know

Balance

Balance is one of the most important and tricky things to get when taking a photo. It is not difficult to learn and master. It depends on the amount of visual weight you give to each element of your photo. The main subject of the photo is the most important thing to keep in mind and then balance everything else around it. Before you click the shutter button, make sure all the areas of the photograph are balanced. You have found the right balance if the things to the left and to the right look almost even and look pleasing to the eye. While it is not a hard and fast rule, most of the photos look better when all the elements in it are balanced.

Composition of a photograph the 4 principles you need to know

Composition, as mentioned before, is anything but easy to achieve. But, with time, effort, and practice, you will be able to master the art. It also depends on the kind of photograph you are planning to do and the important elements in it. Just make sure you know about all the basic rules of composition and then you can play around with these to get the best photos. 

A great tip is to follow some of your favorite photographers and observe their photos. Like a surgeon dissect the photograph and see why it is appealing to you. The story it tells is the composition. No matter what you do make sure you keep practicing and remember to take lots of photos. This is the only way you will ever master composition.

Here are some great resources on the rule of thirds and more articles on composition.

About the Author

Edin Chavez
Travel junkie, animal lover, troublemaker, daydreamer and a bit obsessed with my camera. Addicted to documentaries, coffee, hot sauce, and blue cheese.
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