Four Composition Tips for Beginners

  1. Rule of thirds – I don’t like the word rule. So, let’s change that to guideline of thirds. The guideline of thirds is really a generic principal to make subjects look more interesting. When you are taking a photograph, envision your viewfinder split into horizontal and vertical thirds like this:
    Rule of 3rds
    Rule of Thirds Grid

    Line subjects up on the lines that divide the frame into thirds. The guideline of thirds will teach you to position your subject in more interesting positions within the frame rather than in the middle every single time. However, you don’t always have to follow the guideline of thirds. There are a lot of possible interesting photographs when positioning something right in the middle or all the way to one side. Like I said, it’s just a simple guideline to help you get started.

  2. Leading Lines – When you get serious about photography, you want to share a moment with someone. Using leading lines, especially in landscape photography, is a fantastic way to invite someone into a scene. Leading lines make the viewer’s eye follow the photograph into a scene. Eyes are naturally pulled by lines to explore where they lead whether we are aware or of it or not. Some great examples of leading lines are streams, waterfalls, trails, bridges, roads, sidewalks, tree branches, or anything else that incorporates lines into the design… (so, just to be clear, that’s pretty much everything there is.)

    An example from my portfolio of using natural leading lines
    An example from my portfolio of using natural leading lines
  3. Fill the Frame – I can’t tell you how many Facebook photos I have seen that show a big scene with two tiny people in the center (to understand positioning subjects, refer back to #1). Fill the frame with your subject. If you subject is a friend’s face, don’t have ten feet of blank space above and below their head. If your subject is a waterfall, fill the whole photograph up with the waterfall. You have a whole image to fill! Use all the space you have!
  4. Pin me!!!
    Pin me!!!

    Ok, now take the last three guidelines and throw them to a file way back in the back of your mind. No, seriously. The fourth guideline is called trial and error. When you are out in the field shooting, you need knowledge of the first three guidelines, but you also need to develop your own style. Next time you have your camera with you, practice composition and then find which one works best for you and how you enjoy taking photographs. If you like to frame a photo by leaving something in the middle, just do it! If you push the boundaries of standard photography rules you won’t be cuffed and thrown into photo jail! Be bold! Experiment, break the rules, and push the guidelines where they don’t want to go!


You did it! You are now on your way to taking high quality photographs! Feel free to CONTACT  me with any additional questions!

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