I asked my following what types of things they wanted me to talk about in terms of photography, and the number one thing my instagram viewers voted on was, composition and styling.
Before I get into it, I want to remind everyone that it doesn’t matter the equipment you have, just that you know how to use it (and natural light is your best friend).
PS: I’ve included a little freebie at the end of the post! Don’t miss it!
Okay, so today let’s talk about composition…
My understanding of composition stems from my background in Visual Arts. When it comes to photography, composition is the placement or arrangement of objects and elements in a photograph. They say that you’ve achieved “good composition” if the elements in a work are displayed in a balanced way. It’s also a way to guide the viewer’s eye to the most important elements in your work (a colour, an object, etc.). However it’s totally okay to break these rules (Salvador Dali did so intentionally), it’s best to do what you love, and what looks the best to you!
SO HOW DO WE ACHIEVE THIS BALANCE?
There are 3 general perspectives in photography
Photos are taken at a neutral perspective, usually level with the item being photographed.
Photos are taken at a 45º angle of the object.
Photos are taken from above (like a bird’s eye view) the objects.
When thinking about the overall look of your social feed, consider the angles your work looks best at. Some feeds get away with displaying all 1 angle, but most try to mix up perspectives to keep the viewers engaged.
RULE OF THIRDS
Imagine that every photo you shoot there is a 3×3 grid that comes up on your screen or viewfinder prior to capturing the image (many phones and cameras have a setting to do this). It divides your image into thirds (horizontally and vertically), hence the name. The rule of thirds states that you should try to place important or interesting elements in the photograph where the grid lines intersect. The idea is to stop the elements in a photograph from bisecting (or dividing into two) the image.
Sometimes it’s a matter of literally moving the objects in your frame to these positions, or moving you camera/body to get elements into the desired areas in your grid (I often go for moving my body, so you’ll often see me in really awkward and contorted positions to get the shot I want).
RULE OF ODDS
This rule basically states that having an uneven amount of elements in a photograph is more visually interesting for your viewer than having an even number. Odd elements suggest a natural organic scene, while even numbers cause symmetry, and therefore a concocted and unnatural space.
FRAMING & LEADING LINES
Many interesting photos use surrounding objects in the scene to frame the subject. This could be something like shooting through tree branches, or using the frame of a window to capture your subject.
Framing can also be the literal frame of the photo (where the photo cuts off, not the thing you hang on the wall, however if you went to art school, you know how important the wall frame can be…). I suggest spilling objects out of the frame to create more visual interest. It’s like inviting your viewer into a story, but they get to finish the narrative. However, when shooting people, do your best not to “cut them off at the joints”.
Too many elements in a photograph create clutter and often the viewer cannot discern what elements are most important. Shooting with space allows the viewer to feel like they can enter the scene, and can also show “movement”. For example, if you take a picture of a person walking, you’d shoot with the ‘space’ in front of the person, allowing the viewer to imagine the person walking into that space and across the scene.
Consider the background. Although it’s not the main focus in your image, your background can either distract from (people walking through, dirty dishes hanging around, etc.) or enhance your image (bokeh, sunsets, etc.).