The most important thing in portrait photography is your subject. But that doesn’t mean that their environment doesn’t have any role to play. Not at all! The things that a picture shows in its subject’s surroundings have a share in how that picture feels overall. Even an ordinary bush can ruin an entire portrait—or bring it to perfection.
It doesn’t matter whether you’re taking your pictures with an expensive camera or an old phone. In portraits, the same rule of composition will always apply. And your portraits will look a lot better if you stick to them. Rules are made to be broken, of course, but before you break them, you should know them. So let’s take a look at the basic ones. As you’ll see, knowing them can dramatically improve your pictures.
Did you know you can improve your composition while you’re relaxing watching movies on TV? Just think about filmmakers’ reasons for using particular shots. And then use the same approaches in your photography.
Nobody’s perfect, and nobody knows everything, so nobody’s born knowing which photo compositions look elegant and which to avoid. So there’s no harm in doing a simple composition exercise right out in the field. You just need to find an interesting subject.
We all often examine the work of other photographers, professionals, and the best in our field so as to capture and absorb at least a part of their skill, so we can apply it later in our own pictures. Let’s try extending our study of the great works one step farther outwards, to painting. What can painters’ great works offer photographers?
No more walking the mountaintops waiting for better weather! You’ll find scenes for macro photography everywhere around you—or you can create them on your own. Miniature abstract compositions don’t demand any complicated ideas, and yet they can still be a delight to the eyes.
Is center composition always a mistake, or—when you know what you’re doing—can it benefit your photos? We’ll show you several examples of when you should compose to the center and when to avoid center compositions, and also how to improve a photo you’ve center-composed.
Maybe you’ve been there—standing somewhere with a breathtaking nature scene in front of you. You pressed the trigger a few times, but for all the world you couldn’t get a picture that really showed the beauty you had before you. What was the problem?
Using a series of repeating objects in a photo’s background can make it compositionally impressive. It gives the photo a rhythm—which you can then interrupt with a properly placed subject. And if you hide the end of the series of objects that form the rhythm, you make the photo feel endless. Your audience gets the feeling that the row of repeating objects never ends.