Photo Composition, Pt 1 - Why is photography (and it's composition) so important? And, how can you improve your photos to be better and significant?

Types/Areas of Composition

o Simplicity - only ONE subject is featured. Absolute minimal others objects. Usually because the background is uniform, or completely out of focus.

o Shapes - We tend to be swayed by geometric and naturally occurring shapes.

o Rule of Thirds* - the frame is divided into a tic-tac-toe frame, and the main part of the subject falls in the intersection.

o Lines - especially repetition of lines.

o Leading Lines* - lines that lead you to the subject.

o Fill the Frame** - similar Simplicity above, but even more so where the subject fills the entire frame.

o Camera Angle - where is the camera in relationship to the subject.

o Angles - of objects in the picture, or relative to each other

o Camera Perspective - similar to Camera Angle above, bu0                

  t different with relationship to the background to foreground objects.

    - Uses of lenses to change, i.e. UWA vs. Telephoto

o Selective Focus - choosing what is in focus, isolating the subject.

o Framing* - surrounding the subject with some other part of the picture.

o Lighting - controlling the light, shooting with available, or adding light, is the most fundamental of photographic skills.

    - Flash or Natural or Silhouette

o Uniqueness - is your image different than others who shoot the same thing

o Treatment of motion* <-- a link to know more

o Motion Blur  or   Stop Action

o Center of Interest* (Specific Center is Desirable in every picture.)

o Color Scheme - colors coordinate between the subjects and other items in the pictures

o Colors - some colors which are stronger than the others, or, there are lots of vibrant colors.

o Patterns - in the subject, or background.

o Repetition - objects repeating make for an interesting picture

o Balance - both sides of a picture have the same weight

o Unusual Techniques - LOTS hear...including panning, spinning, long exposure, slow shutters, fast shutters

o Depth of Field - the control of how much of the picture is in focus.

o Shallow (only a little bit is in focus)

o Deep (lots of area are in focus)

o Mirrors, use of, to show a different perspective, like a different or opposite side.

o Symmetry - similar to balance, but different in that both sides are the same, creating balance.

o Proportions - can be either + or -

o Layers/Depth - multiple stories/subjects at different levels in the pictures.

o Rule of Odds - pictures with 3 items, or 5, etc. tend to be more interesting than 4 or 6, etc.


* Denote Magazine Selection Assignment Topics

** Denotes specific class day shooting assignments


What makes a good photo, a good photo? In addition to the above types/forms of composition, there are other elements of a picture that lend to a good photo:

o Story - does it tell one, does the picture have meaning, is there a point to the picture

o Intrigue - are people asking questions...or curious about what is going on in your picture

o Skill & Quality - was the picture taken it in focus...are colors the exposure correct

o Emotion - is the view emotionally affected by your picture? Angry? Sad? Happy?

o Subject - is the subject interesting?

Goal: My goal for you this year is to help you SEE better...and to learn how to COMPOSE with meaning and IMPACT.

Please review these resources to learn to better learn to control how your photos will impact others:

Art of Composition - Kodak Video - An oldy but a goody.

ATPI Composition Presentation - Lines, Shapes, Light, Motion, Perspective, Simplicity, Framing

Composition 1 - PowerPoint Lesson on Basic Composition

Composition 2 - PowerPoint Lesson on Fill the Frame and Rule of Thirds. ...similar to the one we watch in class...look for others for top images for Year End Images

Wildlife Photo and Video Tips - from a presenter at ATPI

Portrait Tips