Composing a Better Photo

Composing a Better Photo


Composing a Better Photo

Picture your favorite family photo.  Is it the one you took back in Hawaii?  How about the one while skiing in the Colorado Rockies?  Perhaps you were scuba diving near the Florida Keys?  The point is, in your eyes, this photo is perfect!  You have the beach to the left, the family to the right.  It’s all smiles, but is the photo having this same effect on your viewers?  If not, you might benefit from knowing a few simple rules of photography composition.  These basics are the key to producing unique and beautiful photos that stimulate the viewer’s eyes and somehow capture the viewer’s attention:


Fundamental 1: Remove clutter and focus.

 Fundamental 1


One of the first rules of any good photo is to remove any unnecessary objects or people.  Make it your favorite family photo at the beach, not your favorite family photo at the beach near the dumpsters.  Having a slightly critical eye can make your photos sharper.  Some things to eliminate in your background include electrical wiring, litter, distracting people, poles, and streetlights.  If you find these, one technique you can try is zooming in on the subject to crop or eliminate the glare of these off-putting items.  Too late, you already did it?  A second option is Photoshop.  Years ago my family had a group photo done, but there was a basketball court to the right.  A little Photoshop work later to replace the court with trees, and even today it looks like another peaceful family day in the woods!


Fundamental 2:  Consider an off-centered pose.

 Fundamental 2



Many photographers are familiar with the famous rule of thirds.  Perhaps, the best way to describe this is by thinking of tic-tac-toe. You imagine 2 horizontal lines and 2 vertical lines over your frame of reference, creating 9 boxes. Then you place your subject on one of the four crossbars where the vertical and horizontal lines intersect.  In doing this you keep your subject off center and allow for more of the background to play a key role in the story.  This immediately makes your photo more interesting and compelling.  In fact, I challenge you to go and find some of your favorite professional photography; you just may discover it’s off centered.


Fundamental 3: Utilize the corners.

 Fundamental 3


Another technique in photography is forcing the movement of the viewer’s eye.  Allowing flowing water, for example, to flow out of the corner rather than the center, creates a more interesting center of interest.  Similarly, imagine a cross walk with the lines going out to the corners.  Diagonal lines in photos tend to imply movement.  These corner elements of composition become significantly more interesting than the bland horizontal view.



Since the holidays are coming once again, it may be time to dust off the old family photo and take a new one.  If so, try to remember these few good rules of photography composition.  Move the torn wrapping paper out of the photo, try positioning your family off-center in the holiday cards, and keep the corner of your eye not just on the gifts, but on the corners of how your framing your photo!