Talking about Composition

In class 6 of the Elements of Photography: we are discussing the rather tricky subject of composition.

Here is the description: Class 6 Composition Learning how to frame elements in your photos by knowing the rules and when to break them. The Rule of Thirds to the importance of geometry, light, and color in composition will be covered. Relationships between subject and background, isolating and interrelating the two.

To break it down composition:

  • Its how you frame your photos.
  • What is included and what is excluded.
  • Uses the viewpoint and angle.
  • Can help simplify the photo.
  • Helps identify what the subject of the photo is. This centre of interest or concept, or message is important to convey with clarity.
  • Simplicity is key when trying to get your message across. Think Zen or even Apple’s motto “Insanely Simple.” Reduce to the essence and then simplify even further.
  • Balance either through symetry or playing elements off each other can add to the power of your message.
  • Lines – elements that lead the viewer into the frame and also to the subject are very usefull.
  • Repeating patterns can give your images great energy.
  • Lighting: we’ve already covered how powerful this can be – use your awareness and control over the light to your advantage. Shadows can define what it is that is important in the image. Remember also that our eyes are drawn to the lightest elements in the frame, ideally that is your subject.
  • Texture is a great way to add form, a point of contrast could be your subject which will stand out even more.
  • Contrast can be lighting and tone, as well as colour or as above texture.
  • Perspective and scale. A great way to add drama and interest to your compositions and in general continue to play visually.
  • Depth of field. Shallow depth of field is a great way to simplify natural compositions to focus attention on what you want people to look at.
  • Rule of thirds: Remember, its a guideline rather than a hard and fast rule!
  • Giving people room to breath in the photos is key.

Today’s exercise:

1.Take at least 3 photos that effectively use the ‘Rule of Thirds’
2.Take a photo using perspective/scale
3.Take a photo using contrast
4.Take a photo using repetition/pattern
5.Take a photo using line
6.Take a photo using texture
7.Show simplicity in an image
8.Take a photo that uses symmetrical balance and then asymmetrical balance
9.Take a photo from a high angle and then a low angle
10.Take a portrait that gives your subject space to look into

An example of the rule of thirds in “action”

Extra credit: look into the work of Gregory Crewdson and think about how he uses composition


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