50 Photo Composition Tips in a Single Image

50 Photo Composition Tips in a Single Image

You have already read or heard me go on and on about photo composition. It really is the most vital part of creating an engaging, captivating photo that tells a story and holds the attention of the viewer. 

You are in control of the viewer's attention. You have control over where their attention hits the photo (point of fixation) and how they then move their focus to other areas of the photo. The real challenge and taking it to the next level is... creating a hierarchy of focal points and inclusions in the photo to then direct them around the photo in a way that communicates a narrative and a story or simply what your intention of the photo was.

Related article: Improve Photo Composition by Stacking Techniques

Hope that makes sense. I did start to ramble there! Below is a video that makes it easier to explain as I break this photo down into the 4-step system and point out over 50 composition techniques and tips within this single photo.

Step 1: Prepare and position the camera 
Camera height - squeeze/expand the background
Asymmetrical balance
Lighting - direction, strength and quality
Shadows, side lighting and textures - affect depth
Atmospheric perspective
Lens choice - brings the background forward
Vertical and landscape orientation
Shooting towards space

Step 2: Position the subject in the frame
Visual anchor - the point of fixation
Emphasis and dominance of focal points
Hierarchy of focal points and visual flow
The rule of thirds
Left to right
Positive and negative space
Active space
Repetition and pattern
Juxtaposition - colours, tones, texture, height, shape

Step 3: Position the supporting elements

Figure to ground
Proximity - unity and abundance
Common fate - similarity
Lines - horizontal, vertical
Lines - different types of diagonal
Implied line of sight
Converging lines - vanishing and diminishing point
The Fibonacci spiral golden spiral
Rhythm, time and motion
Colour contrast - triadic and split complementary
Gesture and interaction

Step 4: Enhance composition using mobile editing tools
Border Patrol
Removing items
Shadows and crushing the blacks
Lens flares
Removing distracting objects

That's quite a lot of techniques and tools!

Feel free to google search each of these listed techniques and tools... or check out my new book Stronger Photo Composition: 4-Step System

In this book, I explain over 100 different composition techniques and tools... and have them grouped into a 4-step system. The secret sauce, as you can see from the above photo breakdown... is to combine multiple techniques from each of the four steps of the system.

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