What is composition in photography?
This question is often taken for granted by many newbie and amateur photographers because the focus is mostly on things like using the right camera, lighting, and camera settings.
Understanding the value of composition is important if you want to come up with visually appealing and thought provoking photos. As such, we’ve decided to focus on composition and how it is used in photography, why it is important, as well as how a photographer can come up with a beautifully composed photo.
Photography Composition: Tutorials and Tips
Perspective in photography may seem like a technical topic, but don’t be fooled; you can use perspective to enhance pretty much any composition. You see, perspective is what allows you to convey depth in your images–so through careful use of perspective, you can create compelling photos that draw the viewer straight into the scene (and never let them leave!). And in this article, I’m going to share with you everything you need to know about perspective, including…
Understanding the elements of photography is a fundamental part of creating great photos. By learning how to work with line, shape, form, balance, contrast, and more, you’ll quickly take your images to the next level. Discover how to apply the elements and principles of photography for stunning results.
Have you ever wondered what it is that transforms a photograph into a work of art? There are different aspects of a photograph but, unarguably, it’s the composition that allows the photographer to make a statement with his image. To me, composition is one of the most difficult aspects of photography as it cannot simply be taught. Learning the perfect way to compose an image is an ongoing journey for the photographer that may even take a…
If you’re looking to capture gorgeous landscape photos–or gorgeous photos of any kind, really–you have to understand leading lines in photography. You see, leading lines are a fundamental element of photographic composition. Landscape photographers, travel photographers, street photographers, and more use leading lines to great effect. So if you’re looking to improve your own photos… …you, too, must master leading lines. Fortunately, it’s not that hard. Leading lines may be important, but they’re also very simple. Which…
Photography is full of odd terms and aspect ratio is one of them. What is aspect ratio? Aspect ratio in photography in layman terms refers to the relationship between the height of an image and the width of an image. If you’re just starting out with photography, you probably haven’t even come across this important term unless you’re thinking about making prints. But aspect ratio is important for a variety of photographic endeavors, including posting online.
If you’ve ever discussed photographs in internet forums or read photography books, then you’ve surely come across the term “rule of thirds”. But what exactly does it mean? In a previous post on composition, I mentioned “the rule of thirds” as one of the classical rules of composition, not only in photography but also in other arts such as painting or film. Let’s learn more about this rule and when to use it (or break it).
Although photography is a two-dimensional art, to call an image “flat” is not exactly a compliment. Indeed, a good photograph, especially a landscape, should create the illusion of depth. Depth is achieved by means of placing objects of interest in the foreground, middleground and background. It’s a technique that dates back at least from the Renaissance when it was first used in paintings. Understanding this concept will help you create powerful compositions and give your landscapes a…
If you’re serious about photography, then you surely know what you need to make outstanding images. And no, I’m not talking about your camera. As I’ve stressed before, understanding composition is the key to powerful photographs which convey meaning and emotion. However, I do realize composition could be overwhelming at the start. All this talk about rule of thirds, depth of field, cropping, framing the object… how is one supposed to remember everything? Well, I can’t really…
If want to learn everything about the golden ratio in photography, you’ve come to the right place. Imagine you’re standing at the edge of a rock. There’s an incredible scene under your feet. Even the light is perfect. Yet, you look through the viewfinder and feel lost. How can you capture it? In a situation like this, the characteristics of your camera alone won’t get you a good photograph. You need something to limit your choices and help…
Today’s article is by contributing author, photographer and educator Andrew Gibson from the UK. The article is dedicated to the process of creating depth in landscape photography. Andrew is the author of over 20 photography books with my favorite being Mastering Composition. I also highly recommend to download his free eBooks here. Today, he’ll share with us how to improve the composition in landscape photographs by addressing depth. Take it away, Andrew! Would you like to create…
Composition and Its Meanings
The word composition can mean a lot of things. In writing, it pertains to a short essay or a literary work. Composition can also refer to the structure of something. In music, a composition pertains to a musical piece created by an artist or composer. In art (as in photography), it pertains to the act of combining several elements in order to make a whole.
Composition comes from the word componere, a Latin term that means “putting together”. So, basically, all the above-mentioned meanings are correct. When you write a literary piece, you put together your ideas. A painting, no matter what medium was used, is composed of different ideas and elements.
Regardless of how it is used, composition is important if you want to come up with an interesting and inviting work of art.
Understanding the Meaning of Composition in Photography
While the word composition means different things in various genres, its basic meaning is still one that can be used in photography. For one, photography is actually like creating a painting; you put together several ideas by taking photos. In some aspects, it is similar to a literary masterpiece as each photo tells an interesting story.
In a more detailed context, though, composition in photography pertains to the putting together or the arranging of certain elements or parts in order to create a visual image. It is what photographers use to highlight a particular viewpoint or focus that an audience clearly sees.
For example, a photographer goes out to take photos. He decides to explore Yosemite, an enchantingly beautiful location surrounded by greens, wildlife, and waterfalls. Since his intention is to show the audience how breathtaking the place is, he arranges or puts together some scenes or elements through his camera’s lens or viewfinder.
A photographer can choose several viewpoints for his photos:
- one perspective can focus on the big, green trees,
- while another can highlight the refreshing flow of the river with the waterfall on the side,
- and yet another can choose to capture the mountains that look so alive.
He will need to consider things like lighting, focal length, angle and aperture to come up with a good composition.
If he decides to take the photo from a distance, he will need to first experiment to decide which angle, focal length, lighting and aperture to use. If he decides to use a wide aperture, his image will have a blurred background. If he wants the whole environment to be in focused and his images sharper from edge to edge, his aperture should be closed. This way, the image will be more balanced.
This is what composition does. No matter how simple an image is, by putting together the right elements, the photo will become livelier (with that extra pop and oomph), interesting and generally visually appealing.
Why Should You Bother With Composition?
As previously stated, composition can help photographers convey their message or central focus better. It helps the audience grasp the whole meaning of the image. In this manner, composition could become a personal statement of a photographer.
But do you think this is the only reason why good composition is essential in photography? The answer is NO.
Basically, when you photograph something, you want it to be as beautiful as it can be. This, however, is not the main reason why you should incorporate good composition into your photography practice.
Good composition is essential because it is what will help you to emphasize the effect that you want your audience to feel.
Can’t you really teach me composition?
As I said, composition is something that cannot be easily taught. But you learn it by practice. Just explore the portfolios of artists in your field, pick up the photos that you like the most and find out why you like them. Then shoot, shoot, shoot. And finally, show your work and ask for feedback. Before you know it, finding the right composition will turn into your second nature.
I cannot teach you how to see but I can help you learn what to look for.
Is there anything you’d like to ask me about composition in photography? Feel free to post your questions or comments below.