2 – Learn about composition NOW
This is the key to it all really, and every image you’ve ever seen holds an example of it.
Composition is the “grammar” of image making
Where you put items in a frame, how they are positioned relative to “other stuff”, how big you make things, your choice of lens… all these are composition.
Its like where you put words in a sentence – you can either:-
- make perfect sense and everyone understands your message
- or confuse people with ambiguities and nonsense
Where you put “stuff” in a photo frame does exactly the same to a person’s understanding of the image.
How to learn composition
A great place to start is an art gallery – check out your local one and see where “people” appear in the frame. Go on-line and see where the trailer is in Constable’s Haywain? Where do the masters put their subjects? Can you see any commonality between them?
Well if you can, you’ll be seeing the various “rules of composition” in action. I prefer to call them “guides” as they’re not set in stone, but they’re a great starting point.
I’d suggest you have a look at:-
- Focal points – what is the subject of your photo, and is it obvious? Is there more than 1 – if so, does it confuse the viewer? Make sure they are in no doubt what you want them to see.
- Lead lines – things which point to the subject, could be a fence, arm, road, row of trees – these are all “real” things… but you can have implied lead lines too, like eyes looking at each other.
- Rule of thirds – imagine a “noughts and crosses” grid over every scene – putting your horizon on one of the horizontal lines, and your subject where the lines cross has been used for a long time, you’ll see this in so many paintings and photos.
- Keeping junk out of the shot – look at the edges of your shot, does that tree/car/dog/lamp-post on the edge of the frame work? Zoom in a bit and see what it looks like with out it.
There are huge books on the subject – it’s well worth popping to the library or investing in one.