Photo of the Week – The 5 Secrets of Great Composition

Getting great shots isn’t all about expensive equipment. It’s about using these simple rules again and again till they become second nature.



1:  That Rule of thirds:
This is by far the best and easiest to remember because with most camera you can have the grid on your viewing screen. The rule is that your subject should be in the access of the intersecting lines or along one of the lines. Here is an example from one of my shots. The reason that the image looks better is basically because the eye (and your brain) likes to see things that are balanced and using this rule helps you balance a composition. It doesn’t work 100% of the time though but if you use it you will defiantly get better compositions more often than not.


2:  Lead the Eye Into an Image
This is an basic tip but a very relevant one. The human eye like to be led around. This is used marketing design all the time. If you guide the eye through the use of lines the eye will actually follow those lines into the images composition. Here is another example that show this effect in action.

3:  Messy Backgrounds are Your Enemy
A big tip for any photographer is to train the eye to see what they are looking at in the view finder. Yes you may think you are seeing but what your eye is doing is focusing on the subject and not the whole image. Look at the background to see if there is a pole sticking out of the person head or is the background confusing and too busy? Sound simple but it takes a lot of skill to slow down and see what your camera is capturing so that when you get back to your house to start editing you aren’t constantly frustrated with the background compromising great shots.

4:  See the World at Different Heights
Never and I mean never stand lock kneed and shoot an image. Even before you bring the camera to your eye stop and look. Is there a better angel to the subject. Bend down, sand on a bench and then start to work the subject or scene with the camera to your eye. I have gotten some amazing shots from having the camera almost touching the ground and in other cases standing on a char in a crowded room. Don’t worry what other’s may think these are the same people who will say “Wow what a great shot” if you get that a shot that makes the composition shine.

Frame-image5 Frame the Image to Please the Eye
An image that is good can become great if you use foreground elements to help frame the subject. I often use tress to frame a landscape scene to give it a much more interesting composition (see example). It’s always good to experiment and take several shoots so one of those shots should always try and have some sort of framing using. remember shots don’t cost you anything in the digital age. You will be happier back home on the computer if you have 5 shots of a scene at different angles instead of one shot that you don’t like. Once you have left a location it is rare that you will return and grab that extra shot. So always stop and take more shots so that you will improve your chances of capturing that elusive special angel that brings it all together.


Nest week: How to edit all these shots quickly and ruthlessly