Introduction to Composition

Have you ever looked at a photograph for a long while? There’s just something about the image that captivates you, gravitating you to the idea behind it and it makes you wonder…

How did the photographer capture this so perfectly?

Empty Chairs at the pool by Dylan Nolte on Unsplash

Well, the ‘magic’ behind it is composition! This is the effect composition can have for your photograph. In short, composition is the structure of how the elements in your photographs are composed. There’s composition for everything in life. It is the key aspect of any work of art — be it tangible or intangible. Music, dance, and even literature are just a few of the arts we see and experience daily that requires the arrangement of the composition.

By placing relative objects and elements to your work, that itself is a work-of-art.

So what exactly is composition in photography?

To most, it is when you have just the right amount of details to tell the story to your image. Knowing the balance between having too much or too little of it can either distract or strip your image of the ‘big picture’.

As a photographer — either a novice or professional, you have to give the composition of your work a lot of attention.

Think of the story or idea you’d want to present to your viewers. Composition helps their eyes to be guided towards the vital elements of the image. In some cases, it is done in a specific way. Imagine it as either guiding your viewers by the hand to journey into your image or like steps that they’ll take to reach the top, reaching the idea behind the photo.

So you see, good composition is vital in producing a good image.

Tea Time with Grandma by Fransisco de Legarreta on Unsplash

It can make even the dullest object into a masterpiece. But poor grasp on composition can make a photo drabby, no matter how amazing the subject is.

You see, simple and common post-editing needs such as exposure or white balance to even cropping or levelling your image is fixable. But an image that lacks in composition more often than not is beyond repair.

But that’s not something you should allow to dampen your spirit. In this age of digital photography, you can shoot your heart out…

… until you get the picture that’s worthy of sharing on Instagram!

‘How do I arrange the elements?’, we hear you ask.

Well, it can be achieved by actually moving the object or subject. Imagine a big canvas where you can begin painting the picture you like.

In still life or portrait photography, this can be done by simply going through the process of having either the object or the subject face a different direction, adding something to frame it, or propping them against a wallpaper to create contrast.

The possibilities are endless.

With street photography, it requires a bit more work as the canvas is already created for you. You will have to just trim it where you want. Not to mention the anticipation to get the perfect shot. Your subjects are constantly moving while you wait for something worthy to shoot. But you don’t have to be stationary all the time. Walk around, and shoot. By changing your position, you’ll be able to look at things from different angles and perspective. Click here to read all our blog posts on camera angles.

However, if you’re shooting landscape or architecture, you will really have to change your position.

There is also a lot of technical things that complement your composition. Focal points, aperture, the angle at which you choose to shoot are just a few of them.

St. Nikolaikirche Potsdam by Chris Myair on Unsplash
In a nutshell, composition is of utmost importance so give plenty of thoughts to it.

If this makes you feel overwhelmed, don’t worry! We’ll be explaining the element of compositions throughout the month of June.

Get your camera ready and stay tuned!

Read the rest of the blog instalments here: 

> Elements of Composition Pt I – Rule of Thirds

> Elements of Composition Pt II – Leading Lines

> Elements of Composition Pt III – Symmetry

> Elements of Composition Pt IV – Patterns

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