So you want to learn how to take better photos?
Lucky for you, making progress with your photography doesn't necessarily have to be a difficult exercise.
Now, don't get me wrong - becoming a better photographer does take a lot of time, patience, and practice.
But sometimes knowing where to focus your attention can get you better results, and faster.
If you want to step up your photography game, consider these easy but effective composition tips.
Know the Rules of Composition (and When to Break Them)
When it comes to composition, there's no more ubiquitous rule than the rule of thirds...
You know, the idea that if you break the image into nine equal quadrants and place your subject at the intersecting points of those quadrants that you'll end up with a better photo.
And much of the time, the rule works great, as you can see in the image above.
Notice how the subject is in a place of prominence in the shot, which helps draw our eye.
But also note how there's room in the shot above her head, and, more importantly, room in the shot to our left for the model to look into.
These tricks help ensure that the photo is balanced and that your eye immediately goes to the most important element in the shot - the model.
But knowing basic compositional rules of photography is only half the equation. You also need to know that these rules are meant to be bent or broken.
Take a look at the image above, and note how it doesn't adhere to the rule of thirds.
Yet, the shot is a good one that's quite compelling.
By placing the model in the middle of the shot, the photographer created a scene with greater symmetry. That symmetry, in turn, leads to visual tension in the shot that makes it interesting to view.
So, it's important to understand the rule of thirds and know how to implement it in your photography. But if you use the rule of thirds for every single shot, you'll find that your images become predictable, and perhaps even boring.
If you want better photos, learn how to switch things up and break the rules when needed.
Add Compositional Elements That Create Interest
There are tons and tons of compositional elements at your disposal that make for a more interesting shot.
You can add a frame within a frame to a portrait, a landscape, or any other type of photo, for that matter, which gives the image depth, dimension, and helps direct the viewer's eye to the subject.
In the image above, you can see how the trees on the left and right sides of the frame give the shot a "tunnel vision" feel.
That, in turn, directs our eye towards the woman in the distance. So, even though she's in the background of the shot, the frame within the frame technique still ensures that she's the focal point of the image.
Leading lines are an essential tool for photographers as well.
They are especially popular for landscape photography and are used as a means of helping to give viewers a pathway to explore the photo from one area to the next.
In the image above, the lines of lavender plants act as the ideal vehicle by which to direct our attention to the mountains and the setting sun in the background.
But leading lines aren't just for landscapes...
In this shot, the lines created by the body of the train and the train windows drive our eyes toward the woman.
When using leading lines in this manner, it's important that the lines work with you and not against you.
By that I mean that the lines should point toward the subject. That doesn't mean they have to be straight lines or even obvious lines. But the best results are garnered by having the lines lead to the most important part of the shot.
We all know the importance of light to photography, but you can use it for more than just creating a well-exposed image.
Our eyes tend to be drawn to bright objects, so using light in a creative manner can help you make a more visually impactful image.
In the portrait above, notice how the larger scene is quite dark, but by placing the boy in the one area of light in the room, the photographer was able to create an image that has a lot of visual appeal.
The same can be said of this image, too.
The shafts of light coming through the forest not only contrast with the dark, linear forms of the tree trunks, but they also serve to highlight the canopy of the trees.
Without this kind of lighting, this forest scene would not be nearly as dramatic, nor would it have the same feeling of warmth and depth.
If all else fails in your images, look for opportunities to incorporate interesting lighting, and you'll have a better photo on your hands.
Change Your Perspective
Something as simple as changing the point of view of the shot is another simple way to take a better photo.
When you look at most portraits, what do you see? An eye-level shot of the model, right?
And there's nothing wrong with that...
However, to create something more unique and visually stimulating, taking a very low perspective or a high perspective can generate a portrait that's got much more capability to grab the viewer's attention.
The image above, for example, makes a more powerful statement because the photographer is so low to the ground.
What that accomplishes is that it makes the motorcycle and its rider look more powerful and imposing.
You can also take a photo from a very high perspective to give viewers a more unique view of your subject.
In this case, the landscape takes on a whole new look when photographed via drone from above.
Rather than looking out at a landscape, we instead look down on it for a texture and color-filled view that's seldom seen.
Making Better Photos Doesn't Need to Be Complicated!
As you can see in the images above, creating photos with more impact is often a matter of using a simple trick or finding new ways to compose your shots to create something far more interesting.
Often, just breaking the rules, using light to your advantage, or changing your perspective is enough to get results that are much more pleasing to the eye.
Now it's just a matter of grabbing your gear and giving these simple tricks a try!
Check out these composition tips and see them at work in the video above by Mango Street Lab. Be sure to subscribe to their channel for even more great tips!