15 Composition Techniques for Capturing Incredible Photographs

15 Composition Techniques for Capturing Incredible Photographs

on July 01, 2020

With many technological breakthroughs in cameras, professional photographers have access to more tools and accessories than ever! But it’s still the person behind the camera that makes the real difference. That makes it more important for professional photographers and their techniques such as the composition techniques to click the best of the best clicks.

Though professional Photoshop services are all there to enhance the images, the main objective of composition is to click the best snap so that it captures the scene as intended and reaches the post-processing table. This blog post will walk professional photographers through many different composition techniques that can be implemented, even when using a smartphone! 

What Is Photo Composition?

Composition is used in all areas of art from photography to painting and is what separates artwork styles. Well-composed art will scream for attention and once it has hooked the audience, it will deliver the intended message. On the other hand, art with boring composition will do the opposite. 

In photography, composition can be defined as the strategic positioning of elements within the shot that causes a viewer’s attention to be drawn to the subject of the image.

Composition Techniques to Capture Extraordinary Photographs

Here are some of the top composition techniques used by professional photographers to bring their photos to breathtaking life!

#1: Rule of Thirds

There really aren’t any hard rules when it comes to photography. These “rules” are strict guidelines that you can follow in order to create powerful visuals. Just imagine the image being on 3 by 3 grid. In fact, a lot of smartphone cameras now have this feature built into them. Rather than follow the natural instinct to place the subject in the exact center of an image, professionals will place the subject on an area where the gridlines intersect.

Rule of Thirds

If you are taking a photo of a landscape, then place the landmark subject along the vertical line to the right or left of the center. This has a much more powerful impact than placing the subject in the dead center.

Rule of Thirds Extend

An individual looking out onto a sunset will have much more visual appeal if they are set to the vertical line left or right of center, facing towards the largest area of the frame.

#2: Rule of Odds

The human brain likes to process objects in even-numbered pairs. So, this technique is based on the fact that when the brain sees an odd number of objects, then they cannot be paired up, and it causes the mind to focus harder. It grabs the attention of the viewer and forces focus on the subject.

Rule of Odds

Imagine taking a picture of an art collection at the museum. Sometimes, it might be a good idea to get three pieces of art into a single image than it is to pair them up. The one that’s offset from the pattern would immediately grab the attention of the viewer.

#3: Rule of Space

The rule of space forces the attention of the audience into a specific direction dictated by the photographer. But for an object to maintain the still illusion of traveling, it must have more space left in front of it than behind it.

Rule of Space

For example, if an individual is walking along a sidewalk, then the picture should be framed in a way so that it seems as if they are moving into the larger space.

Rule of Space - Aeroplane

An airplane would need to have more sky in front of it, giving it the appearance of moving into the open space.

#4: Golden Triangle Rule

Triangles can add energy to any scene, but it has to be done in a very specific way. In short, this type of practice snaps shots at an angle so that objects within the image create a triangle shape. Here’s an explanation.

Golden Triangle Rule
Golden Triangle Rule Space

Most images that people see contain certain horizontal and vertical lines that create rigid geometric shapes. Everyone is used to seeing this, so this concept finds new angles so that those vertical and horizontal lines become diagonal. What happens is that these types of short catches people’s senses off guard because they are simply not used to seeing these angles in images.

#5: Centering the Object

By this point, it has been established that the center of the frame is not the ideal place for the subject, so here’s a slight curveball. There are times when centering the subject is the best choice. The problem is that most people do this all of the time, and as a result, miss opportunities to capture breathtaking shots. Sometimes, symmetrical scenes are a perfect choice.

Centering the Object - Vertical

In most cases, architecture should be centered because of how it’s geometrically pleasing to the senses. An audience expects to see these types of objects centered because it creates a sense of order.

Centering the Object - Boxed

A photograph containing a reflection would be another case where centered composition would work. However, this is an instance where creativity could be used to combine more than one technique. For example, a man standing at a pond casting a reflection on the water would be set center while the pond itself could fall along the vertical line following the rule of thirds.

#6: Depth of Field

This composition technique involves using the foreground to add depth to the picture. One of the big things about photographs is that they are 2D by their very nature, so photographers must be innovative to not let this restrict them. The depth of field provides a more 3D feel to images.

Depth of Field

For instance, a shallow depth of field will allow the focus to be placed on a smaller, more focused area of the shot. This style makes it obvious where the photographer wants viewers to look.

In contrast, using a deep depth of field widens this focus and works wonders in niches like landscape photography when a shallow depth might be confusing.

#7: Balance the Elements

This concept is known as formal balance. The composition most people use in photography is symmetrical balance, which is the art of placing the main subject directly center of the shot. What’s important is that the elements within the shot are balanced, not just the main subject. Using this technique, the background can be centered, whereas the subject is off-center. Of course, there are times when the subject would be centered too.

Following the guidelines set forth in this post, it might seem too boring to place a person at the center of a portrait. This is generally the rule but balancing the elements would make an exception during photos taken at the Oscars or during a closeup beauty shoot.

Balance the Elements

Two landmarks might also be positioned within a shot so that they create symmetry in a photo. Be sure to position smaller visuals so that they create a balance within the frame. 

#8: Leading Lines

This is one of the biggest attention grabbers there is! What happens is the photographer uses natural lines to point the viewer to the center of attention. These lines can be patterns, paths, walkways, buildings, and even walls. Whatever the pattern, these lines are always pointing to the subject.

Leading Lines Curved

Leading lines is an extremely fun composition. Choose an angle where the natural environment produces lines that literally point toward the subject.

Leading Lines

This technique is also not dependent on straight lines either. Curved, leading lines can have the same type of impact.

#9: Patterns and Textures

Humans love predictable patterns and habits. Everyone has specific patterns they follow, varying by routine. Maybe they park in the same place at the grocery store or go through the shop the same way every time. The point is that people love patterns, even in art. They demand attention and highlight specific elements in a photo.

Patterns and Textures

Imagine stone patterns on the ground as you capture the image of a historical landmark, which in itself would likely have even more patterns to add to the image. This scenario could be compounded by a contrasting background to add even more texture.

Or maybe combine it with the frame within a frame technique to add more demanding textures and patterns to the photo.

#10: Filling the Frame

Get close to the images before shooting it so that the object fills the frame! The size of the subject directly impacts just how much power it holds. In other words, bigger items are seen as more important. This technique works in circumstances where the power of negative space might not apply.

Filling the Frame

With that said, photographers need to be careful here because negative space is usually preferable. Filling the frame usually works with a series of photos where several wider shots precede the closeup shot that fills the frame.

#11: Frame Inside a Frame

This technique adds depth to an image and is a neat trick used by professional photographers around the world. Look for objects like arches, doorways, tunnels, or even overhanging branches – anything that creates the aesthetics of a frame. Keep in mind that the “frame” does not have to completely surround the subject to be effective. 

Frame Inside a Frame
Frame Inside a Frame Side

Also, the best frames for this technique are those found naturally. They do not have to be manmade. Just anything that creates the feel of a frame around the subject works.

#12: Leaving Negative Space

Negative space can play a huge role in photography and following this technique can tap into the full potential of certain scenes. The negative space in an image will take up the majority of a picture, thus making the subject seem even more important.

Leaving Negative Space

Contrasting size here makes the main subject even more remarkable as human curiosity takes over. Viewers tend to take more time to look at a photo with negative space because it creates a smaller, more curious subject that takes more focus to notice.

Leaving Negative Space - Boat

Photographers have even discovered how to use negative space to create photos with more than one main subject.

#13: Going Minimalist

Minimalist photography is drawn from the concepts that surround minimalism in the art world. Simply put, minimalist art uses the smallest number of details possible to convey the message. The goal is to evoke specific emotions without cluttering up the image with unnecessary fluff.

Going Minimalist

This technique comes with its challenges, and the biggest is obviously choosing which elements to remove while still maintaining the same emotional appeal. However, minimalism forced artists to look at the world a whole new way and see it differently.

#14: Contrast Background

Contrasting the background is a technique that improves the overall composition of the image and really makes the subject stand out. The concept is to surround the subject with contrasting colors and/or lighting so that it demands attention.

Contrast Background

One of the most common examples of using contrast in photography is monochromatic images. This allows the subject’s details and textures to become prevalent in the photo.

Contrast Background - Centered

Tonal contrast is another example, utilizing colors to create a balance by offering a lighter background for darker tone subjects, or vice versa.

#15: Left to Right Rule of Photography

Moving objects were discussed earlier in the post, so this rule compliments that one. When the subject is moving in a photograph, it’s usually better to have it moving from left to right. The human brain reacts better to it, and it will leave a sense of wonderment.

For instance, a photographer can accentuate the effect of this movement by slowing down the shutter speed of their camera and widen the focal length, thus creating what’s known as a motion blur.

Left to Right Rule of Photography

Image Post-processing Is to Give the Final Look

One more thing that is worth repeating is that there are no rules set in stone when it comes to photography. Look at these composition techniques as more guidelines than actual rules. However, in most cases, following these techniques will create more aesthetically pleasing photos than without those.

At the end of the shoot, the image post-processing that brings in all the difference. Smart Photo Editors (SPE) is a leading image editing company offering photo post-processing assistance to studios, professional photographers, and agencies over the last decade. With specialized services like Photoshop services, Lightroom services, and more, you can team up with SPE to ensure that each shot garners the attention it deserves!

Contact Smart Photo Editors today to enhance your photos with amazing photo retouching, professional photo stitching services, or photo clipping to breathe new life into your photoshoot!

-Smart Photo Editors

Ad Banner Leaderboard
Related Posts
Contact Us