Photography Composition Techniques For Beginners
Photography is an art fueled by vision and creativity, but it’s also about presenting your ideas in the most visually appealing way. Photography composition techniques could make it easier for you to do that! Composition techniques are mostly based on the findings of studies conducted to understand how a human eye works and how a human brain reacts to certain elements. In simple terms, photography composition means including some aspects of the scene in your image while excluding the rest to make it catchy. The placement of these elements and their relationship is also crucial to leave the desired impact on your viewers’ minds. Understanding photography composition techniques could help you excel as a photographer, and in this blog, we help you get familiar with some widely-used techniques.

Elements of Photography

Infographic stating line, color, shape, form, texture, tone, and space are the 7 elements of photography

Before diving into the techniques, it’s essential to learn about the seven elements of photography. They are: Line, color, shape, form (in terms of dimensionality through shadows and light), texture, tone, and space. Placing or balancing these elements in your image in a specific way could help you enhance the visual appeal of your pictures. 

Suggested Read: A Guide To Wedding Photography Camera Settings

Photography Composition Techniques to Create Incredible Images

1. Rule of Thirds 

A bride and groom holds hands on top of a mountain top with cloud-covered mountain peaks at the background
Image Credits: ShootDotEdit Customer @saltpinephoto

The rule of thirds is one of the basic techniques of photography composition. To apply it in your photos, all you need to do is use two horizontal and two vertical lines to divide your camera screen into nine equally spaced sections. Then, place your subject or the most important object on one of the lines or an intersection. To make it more interesting, you can place your subject a third of the way into the photo. This will mean placing your subject off-center, which can sometimes look more appealing than putting your subject at the center. These days, some cameras and phones offer the rule of thirds grid overlay option.

Related Read: Creating Dynamic Photos Using The Rule Of Thirds

2. Golden Rule

Infographic stating the ratio followed by the golden rule is 1:1.618

The golden rule or the golden ratio is considered an aesthetic concept in photography and is a little different from the rule of thirds in terms of balancing elements. While the rule of thirds divides the frame in a ratio of 1:1:1, the golden rule does it in a ratio of 1:1.618, resulting in positioning the subject closer to the center. It was mathematician Leonardo Fibonacci who had noticed that this ratio was easily and frequently found in nature and is pleasing to the human eye. This ratio is considered to be a golden number and has been used by artists for centuries.

3. Leading Lines & Shapes

Silhouette of a couple facing each other  at the center of a door way of a blue-colored hallway with multiple lines
Image Credits: ShootDotEdit Customer @robbmccormickphotography

The human eye is unconsciously drawn along lines, and our brain looks for shapes automatically. Therefore, you could strategically position lines or shapes in your shots in ways that attract your viewer’s attention. If your line doesn’t lead your viewer to something or someone in your frame, you could move things around to create a better composition. Your line can be straight, diagonal, curvy, radial, or zigzag.

4. Framing

Infographic stating consider structures in your scene to serve as natural frames for your subject

When you compose your shots, you could consider structures in the scene to serve as natural frames for your subject. Mountains, bridges, tree arches, windows, doors, and even construction pipes can become a frame for your subject. Depending on the pose, your subject’s hands or arms could also create a frame for them. This technique could help make your image look soothing, clean, and simple yet attractive to the viewer. This composition trick is also known as frame-within-a-frame. Another framing technique is filling your whole frame with your subject. This will help viewers enjoy the details of your subject. 

5. Symmetry & Asymmetry 

Creating symmetry in your shot can simply mean that both sides of your subject look similar to each other. Just like framing, you can find symmetry and patterns in nature. These can make for some eye-catching and soothing compositions. You can also manually create symmetry in your shots, for example, by pulling a chair and placing it by your subject’s side or posing your main subject at the center with others at an equal distance from them. However, to create interest and add a unique touch to your image, you can choose to break the pattern or symmetry. 

6. Depth of Field

Infographic stating change the aperture, camera-subject distance, focal length, & sensor size to adjust the depth of field

If you want to create an image with some blurred areas or want your image to have a sharp focus, then the depth of field photography composition technique can help. You can adjust the depth of field in your image by changing your camera aperture, camera-subject distance, focal length, and sensor size of your camera. A shallow or narrow depth of field will allow you to focus on your subject while blurring the background, whereas a deep or wide depth of field will let you get your entire image in sharp focus. 

Related Read: Photography Basics For Beginners: All About Depth of Field

7. Point of View

A photographer can capture the same scene on their camera from different points of view. Besides the elements in your image, your point of view or viewpoint could also have a massive impact on how your viewer will perceive the image and the kind of emotions they will experience while looking at it. So, instead of just photographing a scene from your eye level, you could consider shooting from a bird’s eye-view or lie down on the ground to capture the scene from below. You can also take an image from the sides, and if possible, you could also try out some drone photography to get gorgeous shots and capture the scene in its entirety.

8. Negative Space

Black and white portrait of a bride through a peek in between two walls
Image Credits: ShootDotEdit Customer @taylorkempphotography

This photography composition technique is the opposite of the fill-your-frame trick. Negative space is the empty area in your image. This empty area and the minimalist nature of this photography composition technique helps to instantly draw your viewer’s attention to your subject. So, in a way, leaving empty space around your subject or between your subjects gives them the room to shine. It helps cut out any distractions and creates a sense of simplicity.

Further Read: Finding Your Photography Style: Develop & Evolve At Your Own Pace

The way you compose your images significantly impacts the final result and also how your viewers perceive them. Knowing what to focus on, where to place your subjects, and how to capture them in a way that invokes the desired reaction could help you hone your photography skills – as a beginner and for the rest of your career too. Like many other skills, you will learn to perfect in your journey as a wedding photographer, nailing photography composition techniques is also a trial and error process. Once you’ve practiced enough, it will become easier to compose your photos and perhaps even break the ‘photography rules’ to capture images that are solely guided by your own creative direction. 

At ShootDotEdit, we love sharing tips that help you hone your photography skills. We also strive to help lessen your post-production workload through our professional photo editing services that match your style. To learn more about how we can help your wedding photography business, take a look at our pricing plans.

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