What Are Photography Composition Rules?

Good composition doesn’t happen by accident. Those who get it right time after time really do see things differently, though there are steps you can take to improve your images with practice. Start with simplifying the scene so the eye is drawn to the subject. Take out any distractions before you shoot.

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Rule of Thirds

Perhaps the most famous ‘rule’ of all is the rule of thirds. Imagine a grid across your image of two vertical and two horizontal lines which break the space into thirds. Position the subject of your shot along one of these lines or where they cross each other. That could be eyes when taking a portrait or a tree in a landscape shot.

Diagonal Lines

Inject a bit of energy into your images by including diagonal lines. They give a good sense of depth and draw the eye into the centre of the image to make the whole thing more dynamic. Where to find diagonals? Think fences, window frames or roads – anything really. Once you start seeing them, it’s difficult to stop!

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Fill Your Frame

Negative space is an advertiser’s nightmare, and the same can be said for photographers. Avoid negative space by looking at what is in the frame and getting closer to it. That said, this is one of the rules that can be broken to great impact!

Get a Move On

Sometimes the simplest tweak can make all the difference. Change your perspective by lying down or standing on a chair and your image will look completely different. Similarly, taking a step to one side will shift the balance of everything within the frame, so don’t be afraid to try something different. Avoid the ‘point and shoot’ technique at all times.

Looking at other photographers’ work through a critical eye can also be beneficial. Look at portfolio images from professionals like a landscape photographer such as https://www.stevemacphotography.co.uk/landscape-photographer/ and see which rules you can see in action or which are being deliberately broken.

For more information and tips on improving your composition, check out the suggestions from Photography Mad.

As well as studying others’ work, get out and practise yourself. Try taking photos of the same subject four or five times using different rules in each so you can see the impact each rule has. You’ll soon develop a style of your own.

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