Composition in Photography: It is not just where but also why


Composition in photography often gets down to where we place the subject of images.  Using the rule of thirds for example we might place the subject off center or in a landscape give the sky two thirds of the frame.

But for storytelling it is important to remember what we are trying to say and why we are placing the subject in a certain spot.

Hero angles are shot from below to give the subject a larger than life image.  We might shoot down or place the subject further away to show their small size in relationship to the overall landscape.

The rule of thirds, triangles,  and golden ratio are all successful formulas.  But what are we trying to say with these compositions? And what can we say when we go against these compositions.

Storytelling in two dimensional visual art forms typically attempts to recreate three dimensional depth through composition. You can use elements such as size, leading lines, foreground, middle ground and background, shading, color tone and other elements to create depth to your images.

The camera itself does not have to be locked into eye height or tripod height. It can be raised into the air on a drone or the photographer on a ladder or be placed at ground level shooting up depending on the needs of the story – move in, take a wide angle shot, shoot at harsh angles, shoot straight on, shoot straight down, look for frames within a frame.

Composition is the artist’s way of saying “Look at this”. But it also can be used powerfully to show which subject has the most power or control in the scene.  Size and scale can be used to

Examples of Frames Within A Frame in Photography

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Examples of Lines of Perspective in Photography

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Examples of Size and Scale in Photography

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Examples of Frame Centrality in Photography

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Examples of Negative Space in Photography

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