Photographic Composition – 4 Tips to Improve Impact.

The art of Composition is the creation of a visually compelling picture, a picture that evokes the interest of the viewer. Composition is a key element of good photographs; it is the combining of distinct parts or elements to form a whole.

Composition should not be seen as a set of ‘rules’ to follow but rather a set of guides to assist in the creative process.

Composition has many elements that affect it including cropping, lines (implied, imaginary, diagonal, s-curves, (vertical or horizontal), perspective (depth and distance), depth of field (background/foreground focus), the balancing of elements, symmetry, texture, and the list probably could go on.

Whenever we see something, our eyes take in everything within our angle of view. The mind processes and evaluates this incoming data, compares it to past experiences, and reaches certain conclusions about what you’re seeing. This process can be enhanced or manipulated to evoke the required feeling in the viewer.

There are some techniques that can help in the process.


Framing is the technique of drawing attention to the subject of your image by blocking other parts of the image with something in the scene. This serves to;

  • Give context to the picture.
  • Impart a sense of depth.
  • Lead the eye to the subject.
  • Intrigue the viewer.


The angle that you shoot from can significantly affect the drama of a photograph. Try the following;

  • A subject can be made dominant (shot from a low viewpoint) or submissive (shot from a high viewpoint).
  • When photographing a child get right down to their level.

A small change in perspective can remedy things like a tree or pole growing out of a subjects head.


This refers to the removal of the outer parts of an image to accentuate the subject matter. This helps to emphasise the subject by removing extraneous elements. Cropping lets you:

  • Eliminate distracting parts of the photo
    Emphasize part of the image to give it more importance
  • Change the composition by moving the subject out of dead center
  • Change the orientation by making a horizontal image vertical
  • Make a pair or series of images uniform in size or shape

Rule of Thirds

When we compose a photo our tendency is to put the subject in the centre of the frame. This is OK, it will give you some pleasing photos, but by moving the subject off centre you can add more impact to the finished image

Now try this, imagine the viewfinder is divided two horizontal and two vertical lines to give a noughts and crosses (tic-tac-toe) grid. By placing the subject at one of the points where the lines meet you will find your photo has a wow factor you’ve not seen before. This is the rule of thirds in action. Images composed this way are considered to be more balanced and pleasing to the eye.


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