You could have the best light, the best models, and the best location…and all of that would be for naught if you didn’t know how to compose the shot. So, what is composition?
Composition is simply, how you choose to capture the scene you are photographing, and in what way.
Everything you do when capturing an image, effects the mood and, in turn, the story you are telling with that photo.
However, composition doesn’t have to be complicated, just remember these three simple ideas:
Composition is as much of what’s not in frame as what is.
Do you want to zoom in and get an image that is filled with your subject, or do you want to include your subject in its entirely?
Your main subject isn’t your only subject.
If you are taking a photo of a person, don’t just focus on how the person looks in the image, but how they relate to their surroundings. Think of the other objects in the frame and how they relate to the pose or positioning of the person. Next, look at the white space that is created between the objects, how does that tell your story?
Move your feet!
This may have more to do with angles, but playing with shooting from different angles will open up more possibilities with composition. Crouch, bend, twist, and climb (safely, of course!)
Here’s an example:
When taking a photo, how do you want to capture it? Think about what you want your viewer to think about the subject, do you want them to look them in the eyes and confront them, or do you want them to feel as though they are viewing from a far?
The image above shows an image from below. I chose to include the branches in the foreground so, as the viewer, maybe you are a wandering traveler that happens across this woman, your eye meet, and you think about following her. You would have to travel across this difficult bramble to reach her. What decision do you make?
The woman is contained within the doorway, and you still are able to see other parts of the building covered in more branches. Imagine if the woman was captured on the right side of the frame, outside of the doorway. How do you think that would change the narrative?
Look at this image next to the one below:
This image is closer, with minimal background information. The little background texture is to give definition to her form, and turns this image into more of a fashion photograph, detailing her clothing (and that amazing jawline!)
Composition is another tool in the photographer’s tool belt to creating a great image that tells a story. The amazing thing is, you get to choose what story you tell, simply by selecting the way you photograph everything within the frame. Next time you go to take photographs, try taking the image in two compositionally different ways. How does the composition change the narrative?