5 tips how to master composition

Composition is the be-all end-all in photography and finding the right one for a given shot is not always an easy task. That’s why I’m here to help you with these tips, which will make you a master ;-).

1) Think about your composition before you click

If a photo has a composition that catches the eye and doesn’t let go, you can forgive anything, including technical imperfections. On the other hand, excellent processing will never make a photo having an average composition anything special. Don’t run and gun, stop for a moment, take your time and try to explore the place first. The time spent exploring a given place will pay off many times over in the form of a thoughtful and unique shot.

I walked around this building for about an hour before I decided on this composition, and waited for another hour with my camera on a tripod for some plane to fly around in the place where I wished… I just love photography :-).

2) Don’t try to get absolutely everything into the frame

Keep in mind that in the world of photography, less is always more. The art of composition is to remove all the unnecessary elements and leave only those that tell your story to the viewer. Yes, the composition is about telling a story that should be engaging and the viewer should want to read to the end and thus from the main element in the foreground to the additional ones. And how many such elements to place in the shot? My recommendation is to include 3 elements, one main in the foreground and background and somewhere in between one that complements them. How you place them is mainly a question of artistic feeling and perception of the place… but in general it is recommended to divide the picture into thirds, which you will then use to place the elements.

3) Things to watch out for when using various lenses

You should also adjust your composition to the lens and focus length used. Especially with wide-angle lenses, it is very easy to end up with lots of unnecessary things in the shot, in which the viewer quickly gets lost. Believe me, not every scene is right for them, and it’s always about finding some interesting element in the foreground. A wide-angle lens simply wants detail, and without it, it’s usually not worth trying. On the other hand, if you manage to find such detail and an interesting background at the same time, it will be a real eye-catcher.

For telephoto lenses, try a minimalist composition based on two or three elements. Their placement is especially important, because any imperfection will stand out here. Therefore, do not rush anywhere and think carefully about the shot.

4) Think about what the resulting image should look like

When thinking about composition, try to visualize the resulting image at the same time. Try to see it, including the adjustments you make when processing it. This is especially important in landscape photography and especially in black and white or night photography. In such cases, it is not even possible to see the scene on the spot, so it is very important that you have a clear idea of what the result should look like. Of course, the more experience you have, the easier this idea will be to form, practise makes perfect.

5) Let your composition stand out with something special

There is nothing wrong with photographing the sun, but if there is only this placed in the middle of the frame, there is probably something wrong with your composition :-). Even the sun can be photographed in such a way that the resulting photo is not one of many photos that look the same, you just need to think about the composition and want to give it something extra. Yes, that something extra will always set you apart from others and make your photo stand out. You will stop being one of many and it will be you, and others will recognize you based on your work. And the first step you can do right on the spot is an eye-catching composition with that extra element. It can be, for example, a long exposure, which gives the image a dreamy atmosphere, it can be a detail in the foreground, which immediately catches the eye of the viewer, a flock of flying birds in the background and so on. There can be an inexhaustible amount of those elements, it just depends on whether you want to do something extra in your photography and move it to the next level.

[Bonus] Don’t be afraid to experiment and be creative

Although there are certain rules, composition is mainly a matter of artistic feeling and perception of a given place. Along with the post processing of the photo, our style is what makes us unique in the vast world of photography. Therefore, do not be afraid, especially from the beginning, to experiment and find your own style. Likewise, don’t be afraid to be creative and learn new things. I’ve been in the world of photography for a long time, but there’s still a lot to learn and I certainly don’t lack the desire to take my photography to the next level. In short, loving and enjoying photography is the best driving force.

This building is a real eye-catcher as it is, but if you manage to place a flying bird in the frame, then this detail takes it to another level. And I would like to point out that there is no shortage of flying birds in the Netherlands at all :-).

As I said, the main thing is to have fun with photography and if my tips help you to be even more satisfied with your results, then mission accomplished :-). I wish you the best light, my friends.