This is the first part of a free course for beginners who want to increase their understanding of image composition.
Almost every workshop I hold has a composition component which I tie into the subject in question. Invariably the follow-up survey reveals that some in the group want to spend more time on learning composition, with more examples of composition principles in use.
I always find ideas on image composition difficult to share because so much of what has appeal in an image is subjective. That being said, there are many ideas that help us better understand how the arrangement of elements within an image can add meaning or a sense of satisfaction. To solidify my own learning, and hopefully to benefit some readers, I am going to use this blog to take an extended look at composition. I will use the same basic outline that I use in the workshops, but expand upon them.
The series will cover the following topics:
- Composition defined.
- Motivation (what are you trying to achieve?)
- The subject (alone) is not the image.
- Subject defined (object or idea?)
- Approaching the subject
- Finding the frame
- Principles of Design
- Elements of Design
- Placing the subject
- Directing the eye
- Dividing the space.
- Other image elements
- Lens craft (selective focus, max DOF, bokeh, wide to telephoto effects)
- Other factors
Each subject is different and can be explored in infinite ways. There is a limit to how following guidelines and viewing dissected images can translate into better composition when you are facing unusual situations. Shoot often, be continuously critical of our own images and keep building your visual literacy. The more you practice these things, the more intuitive your compositional skills will become and the less difficulty you will have when photographing quickly changing situations. Finally, remember that you can’t satisfy everyone and we should not expect to. We don’t see things as they are, we see them as who we are. Photograph what inspires you, in the way that seems best to you.
Because these posts will be irregular and mixed with other blog posts, I advise you to subscribe by entering your email in the sidebar above left.
Next post in this series: What is Composition?