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Learning how to compose your images is a great next step in improving your photography. There are so many ways to improve your photography. I recommend learning manual exposure first, if you haven’t already. Learning manual exposure drastically improved my photography. After you learn manual exposure, the next step is learning how to compose your images better. Learning composition is fun – trust me! It will help take your images from snapshots to work of art. I’m going to go through all the composition ‘rules’ (they are more of guidelines to experiment with) that will help take your photography to the next level.
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10 Different Ways to Compose Your Photos & Add Interest
1. rule of thirds
Let’s start with the easiest one!
You are more than likely already implementing this rule in a lot of your photos. Divide your photo into nine even sections. Two horizontal lines & two vertical lines – this is known as the rule of thirds. At the intersections of these lines is where you would place your subject. This placement is so natural. It’s a beautiful (and easy) way to compose your images. By following this rule it gives your image more balance and is more appealing. I love using this composition rule. It is one of the easiest ones. I am naturally drawn to composing a shot in the rule of thirds, I really have to pay attention and focus if I want a different composition. Remember, these are just rules that don’t have to be followed 100%.
2. leading lines
The next way to compose your images & add impact is utilizing leading lines. Leading lines refer to any lines in your images that lead your viewer straight to your subject. This is a great composition rule that will add impact to your portfolio. Once you start seeing the lines, they’ll come naturally and you won’t even realize you are implementing them. In the image above, the lines from the counter tops lead straight to the little girl. Leading lines are great ways to add impact to your images. If you use them correctly, they will lead your viewer straight to your subject. But be warned: if you use them incorrectly, they can cause the viewer to wander all around the frame. Make sure you have your leading lines leading where you want them to, and not out of the frame, for example.
3. fill the frame
One of my favorite ways to compose an image is to fill the frame. You fill your picture up with your subject. This composition is perfect for when you want to focus on the details or get rid of distractions in the background. I think this composition rule is beautiful because it helps you to focus on your subject. I love filling the frame with people’s faces. Get nice and close and fill the frame with your subject’s beautiful face! It helps your viewer to know exactly what the subject is – because your subject is the ONLY thing in your frame! This composition rule can really help simplify your image.
I think color is the one compositional tool that people often overlook. You can use color to compose your image by adding a pop of color. Look at a color wheel and use colors that are across from each other. Converting an image to black & white can also be a compostional tool.
Adding texture to your image can add interest. The viewer goes straight to the texture. It helps bring a photo to life and creates a 3D look. This is perfect for portraits, wedding rings, flowers, even people can have texture.
6. center composition
A center composition can add symmetry to a photo. Usually beginner photographers use a center composition for everything. When using a center composition, I want you to really think about how and why it would add interest to your photo. Look for symmetry.
I love framing. Framing is a great way to make an image look more appealing. There are many natural frames in nature. You can use windows, doors, trees, anything that creates a frame within the frame.
8. negative space
Negative space is a great way to compose your images to simplify them. It will draw your viewer straight to the subject. I love using negative space to also get rid of distractions. You can also use negative space to fill the photo with sky – that is always appealing, in my opinion!
I love the way reflections look in an image. This technique is especially beautiful in landscape photography. But everyday reflections can add so much depth and symmetry as well. Images with reflections in them always cause me to stop and stare a little longer.
Adding depth to your image is fun. Basically, when you having things in the foreground (front) of your image, it helps give your image depth – or make it look more life like. It can really help to bring your images to life when you add depth. Try ‘shooting’ through objects to create foreground blur.
I hope these 10 composition rules have inspired you to get out and practice! But remember – these rules are just ‘rules’ or guidelines, that once you know how to use them, they are OK to break and experiment with. Don’t ever feel like your image is good enough if it doesn’t have one of these rules in them. Remember to practice all of these compositional rules – practice is what will really take your images from snapshots to amazing works of art.
I am a photographer, a wife, a sister, and now a momma to be. I strive to capture the beauty in ordinary things. I love to photograph people, places, and things that I love and cherish. I am a lover of natural light, macro, lifestyle, and dark and moody images. I am a die hard Nikon fan, I love yellow starbursts, I am a pianist, and I am obsessed with photography, maybe a little too much!