- The Photographer's Eye: Composition and Design for Better Digital Photos
- Photography Composition: Simple Understanding of Composition to Become an Amazing Photographer
- Bryan Peterson's Understanding Composition Field Guide: How to See and Photograph Images with Impact
There’s no denying that a good photograph cannot be taken with a poor composition. If you want to be a good photographer, you have to master composition. Now that I got that out of the way, let’s have a look at what good composition means and what mistakes you should avoid.
Most likely you think about the rule of thirds every time you hear about composition. The rule of thirds is so widely used because it simply works. It’s hard to get it wrong when you use it, but it’s important to understand that it’s far from being the best solution in many cases. It’s the go to method when you want to play it safe. But it’s also a way to create dull and boring shots, so you might want to consider that when you’re looking through the viewfinder or checking your LCD screen.
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With that said, there’s a lot more to a good composition than the rule of thirds. The decision of how you frame has to be a quick and effective one and that takes a fair amount of practice. It also has everything to do with the subject you’re shooting.
But from a broader perspective, there are a few elements you need to look out for when framing. Are there any leading lines in the frame? Is it a minimal composition with one or two elements or are is there a lot of stuff that has to be placed in a complex order? Are there any patterns or symmetry between elements?
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These are all questions that have to be asked and answered in your head quickly.
You also need to be very careful about the background and you need to decide how your depth of field is going to look. It all sounds easy and it’s going to take a few thousand shots and many hours of practice before you get the hang of choosing composition on the spot.
My suggestion is taking the time to study the work of some of the masters, including Henri Cartier Bresson, Richard Avedon, Alfred Stieglitz and Robert Capa.
Here’s a great video from B&H with photographer David Brommer explaining how you can improve your composition without using the rule of thirds.