What I end up shooting is the situation. I shoot the composition and my subject is going to help the composition or not. – Annie Leibovitz
Whether you’re shooting with a DSLR, point-and-shoot or camera phone, your composition is still the prime factor in achieving great results. I’m not going to talk about any rules of photography in this post. Although important, I don’t think your creativity should be limited in any way by rules. Here are a few photography composition tips to help you take beautiful pictures.
1. Find leading lines
Since you want the focal point to be clear, you can also help the viewer by controlling the way the eye moves. This way the subject is clear and easier to get to. Lines are easy to find: roads, fences, shadows, etc. Take a look at the cover photo of this article. See how the lines in the pavement lead your eye to the fountains and the colorful buildings in the background?
2. Keep the shot simple
As I mentioned in previous posts, it’s very important to keep your photo simple and clutter free. Always ask yourself: what is my subject, what am I trying to convey and focus on? In the photo above I wanted to show the colorful fishing nets. I could have included the fishing boat, even the harbor, but I decide not to. Why? Because I wanted the viewer to be able to focus on the nets. Sometimes negative space can also help with this. See one of my older posts about negative space.
3. Move closer
This can help focus on the main subject. You can also zoom in, but keep in mind that this will flatten your perspective. In the picture above notice how the statue is covering the majority of the shot. This way my subject is clear and the shot is not cluttered.
4. Look for diagonal lines
Most of the time we use horizontal and vertical lines. Try using diagonal lines once in a while to introduce a little drama and a better sense of depth in your photos. In fact wide angle lenses tend to emphasize diagonal lines due to the perspective. In the photo above I used a wide angle lens (Canon EF 24-105mm) on my Canon EOS 5D Mark II.
5. Leave more space ahead of your subject
Give the subject some space to move. You can use this when capturing motion or even with a portrait. Take a look at the photo above and notice how I left a little space in front of the model. She is looking to her left and she needs an area to look into, as we tend to follow her gaze. Same with the photo below. I left more space in front of the red car to give it room to move. Remember, always leave more space in front of the subject than behind.
6. Check your background
This goes hand in hand with tip number 2 – fill the frame and keep it simple. If you have a distracting background you might want to exclude it. To do so, you can use a wide aperture and a longer focal length to throw the background out of focus. I use an f/7.1 aperture and focal length of 160mm in the photo above.
That’s it for now. I will give you more composition tips in the coming blogs. Until then, grab your camera and go take some cool shots.
Happy creative shooting!