Photography Composition

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Image Composition

Photo with  moody illumination

Picture 1. Balance and moody illumination help to create successful composition.

21.06.2007 Category: Photography Composition
Image composition describes how different subjects and visual elements are arranged inside of the image frame. The purpose of image composition is to create a visually compelling picture, a picture that evokes the interest of the viewer.

A successful shot attracts the eye for a while. Visual elements that a photographer uses in the composition are for example lines, forms, textures, balance, symmetry, depth, colors, perspective, scale, and lighting. A picture can tell a thousand words but how to create such a photo?

Image Composition in Photography

Here I deal with image composition from a photographer's perspective. However the same principles can be applied for example in drawing, 3d graphics or any other work where visual elements are placed inside of a frame. Digital camera is an excellent tool to learn about image composition. Digital camera makes it very easy to try different compositions about the same subject.

The Meaning of Image Composition

Often one thinks only about the subject of the photo and forgets the meaning of composition altogether when taking a photo. Often a photo is taken from far away and the subject is placed into the middle of the frame without thinking other visual elements the frame might include. This kind of approach only seldom yields to the best possible composition. It is critically important to pay attention to the composition of the image every time taking a photograph. Composition can have a dramatic effect on the resulting image and in my opinion is equally important with the subject itself. When composing an image one should always think about what he wants to tell with the photo.

Learning Image Composition

Photo with simple composition

Picture 2. Simplicity is one "rule" of image composition.

How to learn image composition? The first step is be aware of the meaning of the composition. It is very important to understand that if a boring subject is combined with the right composition, the result can be a very compelling image.

There are several rules and established practices about image composition that help to create better results. These rules can be broken and many times they should. However, it is suggested first to know the rules about image composition and only then to break them on purpose if it provides better results.

Some people can naturally create compelling compositions. However, image composition can also be learned for example by exploring photos of professional photography artists and analyzing what makes them good?

Image composition takes time. When the subject matter is chosen, one must still decide how to place it inside the frame and what other elements to include. Usually it takes a lot of time and experimenting to find the best possible composition. As a first rule of thumb one could say: It is often wise to choose one clear subject into the photograph.