Photographic composition often seems to be an elusive concept for many photographers. Many get too caught up in the "rules" and adhere to them as if it were an offense punishable by death.
I believe the "rules" are merely guidelines and not really rules. There are, however, some basic concepts to make your compositions better.
- Keep it simple. This biggest mistake I see photographers make is to try to include too much in their image. Often this results in elements competing for attention.
- It is important to understand the so-called rules but don't make it a religion. There are dozens composition rules; Rule of thirds, Golden Ratio, Golden triangles/spirals, Rule of odds, Leaving space, Filling the Frame, Balance, Lines, Patterns, Textures, and more. It is important to photograph with intent. Understand what you subject is and express that to the viewer.
- Work the scene. In watching photographers I see so many that only photograph from a standing upright position. Sometimes the best perspective is lower. I have been known to lay on the ground or to walk up the hill. I have also taken things to stand on, including a ladder.
- You can't please everyone. I have been around photography for 34 years. I have watched critiques in groups with highly experienced photographers. Some will say they like the composition others will say you should have composed the image differently. Many times the lines split right down the middle, saying the composition works 50% in of the comments and the other 50% say it doesn't or they would have composed the scene in a different manner.
- Find a mentor to help you learn. Your mentor should strive to allow you to grow as a photographer and not just become a carbon copy of their style. A mentor should help guide you through a photograph, scene, setup, lighting, etcetera by providing information and tips. They should teach you not only how, but why. Doing so can provide you the tools and knowledge to develop your own style.
- Stop believing there are "5 simple steps to better photography". Many bloggers may try to convince you there are "simple steps" to achieve greatness, riches, better photography, smoother skin, and on. There isn't. These "simple steps" are a myth requiring commitment and work by you. If it were simple and easy all of us would be rich, famous, healthy, with smooth skin.
The concepts listed above are just a few that can get you set out on the road to better compositions and better photography.