Do you want to be a better memory keeper but struggle with taking “good” photos? If your answer is yes, then today’s message is for you! Photography is both an art form and a skill. As a form of self-expression, sometimes we’re not quite sure how to express what we really want to—at least not in a pretty way. Luckily, the skill part of capturing a great photo can be taught! Today we are reviewing a few basic rules of photography composition so that you can capture all of those picture-perfect moments life throws your way in photos you will be proud to scrapbook!
1. The Rule of Thirds
The Rule of Thirds is a fairly standard rule most photographers try to follow. Imagine that your shot has a 3 x 3 grid over it, then line up the main focus of your photograph at one of the intersection points on the grid. In these photos, the photographer has applied the Rule of Thirds by placing the cat’s nose and the people’s heads in the right-middle square of this imaginary grid. This way, the main focus of the photo isn’t dead center in the middle of the shot, which helps to visually expand the space.
2. Leading Lines
When you line up your shot, you may want to look for a leading line. Leading lines are visual lines that lead to the main subject of an image. Leading lines can extend through your photo and create depth. In these examples, you can see how the photographer used the pathway and trail to direct attention from the edges of the photographs to their main subject.
3. Natural Framing
Framing doesn’t have to be something that happens only after your pictures have been developed or printed. Finding a natural frame and positioning your subject inside it is a great way to draw the shot together and add a more professional feel to your photography. Here, you can see how the woman’s hands and the wall provide a frame for the most important parts of the photos.
Photography is largely about perspective. Slight changes in perspective can make or break a photo. If you aren’t happy with the way your photo is looking, try switching up your position to alter the perspective of the shot. Whether you shoot your photo from above or below, as you can see in these examples, switching up your angle to get a different perspective can help you take your photography to all new heights.
Exposure is a vital part of any photograph. If a photo is over-exposed, everything will be washed out in bright light, making the subject nearly invisible. On the other hand, if a photo is under-exposed, everything in your shot will appear shadowy and dark. By finding a good balance, you can highlight your subject while preserving the beauty of your background. For this tip, we’ve provided an example of bad exposure with excess light to show you what you don’t want to happen. We’ve also provided a good example with a balance of light and shadow. Finding this balance may take some practice, but it’s definitely worth it to add greater polish to your photos.
6. Check Your Background!
From telephone poles, wires, and cars, to animals, and stealthy photobombers, nothing is more distracting than something you don’t want in the background of your photo. Since many cameras nowadays allow us to look back at our shots instantly, it’s easier than ever to deal with this, but it’s always a good idea to double and triple-check the background of each photo to make sure you haven’t accidentally captured a distraction.
7. Symmetry and Patterns
Most people have a thing for symmetry and patterns. Sometimes, we can’t quite put our finger on why we prefer certain photos to others, but chances are, symmetry and patterns (or the lack thereof) have something to do with it. Even if we aren’t aware of it consciously, we still notice. If you’re able to find a pattern or some beautiful symmetry in your shot, take advantage of it! In these shots, the photographer utilized the symmetry in the architecture of the cathedral and the natural pattern created by the flowering trees to appeal to that sub-conscious love of regularity we all share.
When you have a clear subject in your photograph, it may seem counterintuitive to focus on anything but that subject in your photo. However, if you are able to create some interest in the foreground of your shot, you’ll be able to create the illusion of additional depth. In these examples, the cup of coffee and the look-out binoculars serve as additional interest points, which also create depth in both photos.
This “rule” is related to the patterns and symmetry guideline. If you look closely, you can find triangles in nearly everything you see. If you can integrate triangles into the background, foreground, or leading lines of your photo, it will instantly enhance the quality of your photo. These triangles don’t necessarily need to be overt or obvious. Basically, you just need to be able to draw a triangle using points in the photograph. Whether the triangles are created by an architectural element or by people’s arms, they will add greatly to the aesthetic value of your photos.
10. Rules Are Made to Be Broken!
Once you have a good grasp of the first nine photography rules we just shared, you will be ready to explore your creativity and learn when and how to break them. If you want to achieve an effect that follows one rule while breaking another, go for it! Don’t be afraid to branch out and experiment on your own terms to find your niche.
Do you guys have any tricks or techniques that you’d like to share? Leave a comment below!