5 Composition Styles To Add More Interest To Your Photos

Last week we talked about how light has full control over your image.  If you shoot in poor light, the other elements of your photo will be overshadowed.  Once you can control your light, you can control just about anything.  The next step to creating a well set scene is to have a better understanding of composition.  

How to use composition to add more interest to your photography

Just like light, learning how to incorporate better composition into your photography should be a step by step process.  It's best to start with one concept, practice it daily and learn it well.  Then introduce a new idea.  There are many so called "rules" of composition, but that does not mean you have to apply all of them at once.  

While shooting in "the real world" we often have little control over our background.  Sometimes we have to work with what we have and simply make the best of it!  In those situations, a photo turns out best when we find "the light" and apply one or two rules of composition to make the scene more visually appealing!

So start small and simplify it!  Look at your background and determine how you can reduce and declutter the scene.  Then, use one of the following composition tips below to add interest and a photo that stands out above the rest.  By knowing how to properly compose your photo, everyday items will start coming to life right before your eyes.  Composition is all around you.  It is simply a matter of training your eye to find it. 

1) Rule of thirds

The rule of thirds is the perfect place to start when improving your composition!  It is a simple, easy concept to learn and follow.  Simply place your subject in one third of your frame.  This can be accomplished in a variety of different ways.  

You can place your subject on the right or left third.  Or in the upper or lower third.  Then think about what surrounds your subject.  Is your background busy?  Or is there a lot of negative space?  If it is busy, consider lowering your aperture, so that your subject is the main focus of the image.  If there is a lot of negative space, position your subject so that the negative space leads your viewers eye right to it.  

2) Leading lines

Leading lines are a beautiful way to draw attention to your subject.  The use of leading lines in composition does just as it sounds, it leads your eye to the subject of an image.  Leading lines can be a bit harder to accomplish, especially when first starting out.  

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Your goal is to find naturally occurring or man made lines, and place your subject in a way that your eye is drawn from the lines to your subject.  You may need to increase your aperture to ensure that both the lines and your subject are in clear focus.  

3) Texture

Texture is a fun composition that we often forget to use!  Texture adds visual interest to your image and plays on the viewers fives senses.  When we see texture, we can more easily place ourselves in a photo as if we were really there.  

In the two images below of both the rain on the leaf and the succulent, you can almost feel the dew of the fresh rain and the fuzzy hair of the succulent plant.  You can use a macro lens to capture texture as I did with the succulent, or simply lower your aperture to increase your depth of field.  With the leaf, the rain and texture of the leaf standout against a blurred background.  

4) Framing the subject

Consider how we use frames in everyday life.  We frame printed quotes and photos.  We frame our homes with colored roofs and shutters.  Frames are simply meant to showcase something, so why not incorporate it into your photography.

Natural frames are not always easy to find.  Try creating a frame for your subject by placing another object between you and your subject and shooting through or around it.  For example, shoot through an open doorway, with the outer edges of the doorway as the outermost area of your image.  

5) Viewpoint

When I first started photographing my daughter I alway shot her from straight on.  Always.  Without fail.  One of the simplest things you can do to add a little variety to your photos is to move your feet.  Rather than move our subjects, sometimes we just need to move ourselves.

Consider your subject as you move.  Are you photographing your children?  Nature?  A bride and groom?  For people a different viewpoint that is often more flattering is to shoot from above.  Especially with portraits such as a bride and groom.  In nature, the best viewpoint is the one that captures your scene as we would typically see it through our own eyes, from straight on.  However, that does not mean you can not move side to side.  If you are photographing your every day or your children, experiment and have fun with it.  Shoot from above and below!