It’s incredibly easy to only take photos of exactly what’s in front of you. You literally just push a button. And whilst we all enjoy an easy life, we can often miss opportunities for a better photo because we don’t want to feel awkward about moving someone into a better position, or you’re simply not aware of a few simple rules to look out for.
However, what you begin to realise is the 30 seconds it takes to create / compose a better image is an incredibly worthwhile investment for the months and years spent looking back at your photos. Here we take a look at some basic techniques for the composition of your image including clean backgrounds and framing, the rule of thirds and leading lines.
All of these techniques are things you can start looking out for, and using in your photos, immediately. The first is clean backgrounds, which is exactly as it sounds. Making sure the background is clean and there is clear space around your subject.
This also ties in with another technique called ‘framing’ which refers to using elements of the scene, such as windows, doorways, arches etc, to create a natural frame around your subject. This helps your subject to stand out more in your photo. Below is a photo of my wife Hatti. It’s a nice photo and she looks happy because she’s somehow managed to commandeer herself a dog for the day.
However, the natural angle for simply taking the photo means the bridge in the background is cutting through her head. Instead, by holding the camera slightly higher we create the angle to put her in the middle of the gap under the bridge. This provides a clean background and also a natural frame of the bridge around our subject.
Another thing to consider is we don’t always want to have our subject in the middle of the photo. I was often taking photos with the subject randomly placed off to one side or at the top or bottom of the image without really knowing where they should go and getting very mixed results. It turns out there’s a rule (some of you may know this) called ‘the rule of thirds’ to make sure your image still appears well balanced and pleasing to the eye.
This works by splitting your frame into three sections, horizontally and vertically, and positioning your subject at one of these crossover points (as shown by the red dots on the image below).
Magic! Also notice the clean background and natural framing of the subject once again, using the door frame.
Finally for this week is a technique called ‘leading lines’. These are natural lines that draw the viewer’s eye into your image and direct them towards your subject. They are a great way of creating depth and symmetry to your image. As with a lot of these techniques once your eyes have been metaphorically opened you will start to notice leading lines everywhere such as stairs, paths, roads and train tracks amongst many other things.
Once you begin to observe leading lines, this will also help you to notice more opportunities for interesting photos. Mundane and functional things such as zebra crossings, that stopped being exciting beyond about three years old, will suddenly be given a whole new lease of life. In the photo below, notice how the leading lines created by the zebra crossing helps take the viewer on a journey from one side of the road to the other, leading into our subject. Adding depth to the image and drawing your eyes to the subject.
#HOMEWORK: Take a single photo that incorporates clean backgrounds, the rule of thirds and leading lines. Like this…
If anyone actually ever does their homework, please do send us your photos we would love to see them!
Until next week…
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