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Composition at its best – Part 1

We should never have to explain why we took a picture. If we find ourselves having to do that all the time, we’re probably not faring too well with our picture taking. The key to interesting and appealing photographs is in highlighting of the subject. After all, the subject is the reason for the photograph. Here are some ways to compose your pictures that will ensure no explanations are necessary.

Get close

One of the first rules of successful photography is filling the frame. When we’re taking pictures, our minds see only what interests us. We zoom in and mentally remove anything in the frame that doesn’t interest us. But the camera sees all and when we get our photos back, our subjects are often too small and there are so many things in the picture we didn’t want to be there! Make sure that you’ve moved close enough to your subject so that nothing unwanted is in the frame. Get close or zoom in so that your subject is not a minuscule dot that you have to explain to others!

Avoid dead centre

Don’t use your camera like a gun scope. People aren’t targets – they’re subjects – and their faces shouldn’t be dead centre in the frame. That just isn’t creative composition! More than that, it creates a lot of wasted space above them. Moving your subject’s face to the top third of your frame will ensure a far more pleasing portrait.

Use thirds

One of the standard rules of composition is the rule of thirds. This means that you divide your frame up into thirds and place your subjects within these sections. This is especially true of people pictures. Try to put their faces in the top third of your frame, as mentioned above. If your picture is a scene or a landscape, put the horizon at the top or bottom third, depending on which is more important – the land or the sky. If you’re photographing people in the landscape, place them in the left or right third.

Horizontal or vertical?

We’re used to holding our cameras in such a way that everything is composed horizontally, but this isn’t always the best way – especially if we’re photographing people. Unless they’re asleep on the couch, our friends and family are usually seen standing vertically, right? So, turn your camera sideways, put their faces in the top third of the frame and voila! – you have a nicely framed portrait of your subject.

Change your perspective

Avoid taking all your pictures from a standard height. When photographing children, get down to their level so that you don’t look like you’re overpowering them from a height. Sometimes even landscape photographs can be more effective when you come down a little bit and include some interest in the foreground. Elevating your perspective can also be interesting, depending on the subject. The point is: varying your viewpoint from picture to picture will make your photographs more appealing.

Use natural frames

We’re used to putting our pictures in frames, so why not frame our compositions? Using doorways, tree boughs and windows can be very effective in drawing attention to the subject, which is what good pictures are all about!

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