4 Ways To Improve Your Photographic Composition

Perhaps the 2 most important ‘ingredients’ in photography are light and composition, and it is the latter element that I want to talk about in this article. Specifically I’m going to talk about some straightforward ways to improve the way you ‘compose’ your images.

1. The Rule of Thirds– this is a well-known concept in photographic and artistic composition. Essentially, when you look through your camera’s viewfinder you should visualize a ‘grid’ that is divided into three equally spaced horizontal as well as vertical lines. The idea is that you should place your ‘subject’ at one of the points where a vertical and horizontal line intersects. This should lead to a more dynamic and interesting composition, and one where the viewer’s eye can flow through the frame more effectively. Have a play around with this technique and see whether you like the effect it has on your work- some camera’s have a feature that superimposes the rule of thirds grid onto your viewfinder itself!    


2. Study the Greats- one of the best ways to improve your work is to constantly study the work of the great artists and photographers. Try to deconstruct their compositions, and ask yourself how the composition helps to convey the meaning of each image. You may want to try out some of the approaches and techniques you study in your own work. Just try lots of different things out to see what works for you!

Study ! (7006850665)

3. What is your subject and context? – whenever I take a photograph I try to define in my own mind what the subject and context of the image are. By subject I mean the main focal point of the image; that part of the image that you want to emphasise. The context, by comparison, plays more of a supporting role, and helps to ‘bring out’ the underlying meaning of the subject. For instance, I may decide to focus my camera on a brightly coloured bird. I may further decide to select a plain, light coloured background (or context) to further boost and emphasise the strength of those bold colours.


4. Change your perspective- If you find that your initial attempt at composing an image isn’t working then try changing your perspective. You may find that by taking a higher vantage point, or by moving to a different angle, you improve your image. Don’t just settle for the very first ‘frame’you find. Move around, experiment, and be creative.

photographic composition

My final tip (and a little bonus for you) is to try and simplify your images. Often the strongest images are the ones that are simplest. If your image isn’t working you may find it gets stronger when you eliminate 1 or 2 elements in the frame.

I wish you the best of luck with your photography. Just remember to keep experimenting, and most importantly of all, have fun!