There are no unbreakable rules when it comes to composition and image creation. However, there are a few principles you can use to help improve your composition. In this tutorial, I’ve listed 20 principles along with examples of each. I started with the very basics and finished with some more advanced creative techniques.
First of all, we have to define what the definition of ‘layout’ is.
Composition is the arrangement of images in a certain order, regulation or order in the most reasonable way so that the viewer can feel the idea and content that the photographer wants to convey. As I mentioned, these are not rules that you have to follow, they are just guidelines.
We’ll start with the most famous composition technique: the Rule of Thirds.
1. Rule of thirds
One of the most famous rules of photography composition and one of the most important things you must learn in photography is the rule of thirds in artistic photography.
It’s also one of the easiest ways to instantly improve your photography techniques and capture visually appealing and balanced images.
This rule is understood as follows: As in the image above, you divide the frame evenly into nine equal parts made up of four straight lines including horizontal and vertical. These lines are called main lines and their intersection is called the golden point in photography. Currently, on conventional cameras or even phones, there is a mode to display lines on the capture screen itself for user convenience. If you place the subject in one of the four points above, or at least place it along the main lines, the subject will become much more prominent than aligning it in the center of the normal photo.
2. Central composition and symmetry
Sometimes, placing the subject in the center of the frame works very well. The symmetrical scene is perfect for this type of composition. They also look really great in square frames.
Scenes with reflections are also a great opportunity to use symmetry in your composition. In this shot, the photographer used a combination of the rule of thirds and symmetry to create the composition of the scene. The tree is placed off-centre to the right of the frame but the reflection of the water surface should be symmetrical. You can often combine multiple principles of composition in one photo.
3. Foreground composition and depth
Interesting foregrounds are a great way to create a sense of depth in a landscape. Ordinary photos will feel like 3D when it is increased in depth, often thanks to the foreground and background elements.
In the photo above, the rocks in the foreground provide the perfect foreground. This technique works especially well with wide-angle lenses.
4. Frame nested frame
You can increase the depth of the photo by using external frames such as windows, trees, or anything that frames the subject. Frame-in-frame composition is an effective way to add depth to a portrait’s background. Try looking for elements like windows, arches, or overhanging branches to naturally frame the scene. The “frame” doesn’t have to wrap around the entire scene to be effective.
5. Straight lines
Lines help guide the viewer’s attention to the important elements. Anything from pavement, wall or pattern can be used as a path. See the examples below.
The paths don’t have to be straight as shown in the image above. In fact, the curves are also very attractive. In this case, the path directs the viewer to the right side of the frame before shifting left towards the tree. I also use the rule of thirds when composing my photos.
6. Diagonals and triangles
It is often said that the geometrical element in the form of triangles and diagonal lines can add “dramatic” to an image. So what does “dramatic” mean? It is quite difficult to explain, because it depends on the perception.
The horizontal and vertical lines indicate stability. If you see a person lying on a horizontal plane, he will look quite steady. If you photographed this man on a ramp, he would look completely different. It creates a certain visual tension. We should not apply diagonal photography in daily life. They create unconscious instability. But incorporating triangles and diagonal lines into an image can create a sense of ‘dramatic’.
The image of the Samuel Beckett bridge in Dublin incorporates many triangles and diagonal lines into the scene. The bridge itself is a triangle (it looks like a Celtic harp when viewed from the side). In addition, there are some triangles ‘hidden’ in the scene. The guides to the right of the frame and all the triangles meet at the same point. Both techniques have been combined to create the image: path and diagonal.
In this photo of the Hotel de Ville in Paris, triangles and diagonals create a sense of dynamism. We don’t often see such a leaning building in our daily life. It affects our sense of balance. It creates visual tension.
7. Patterns and textures
People are often attracted to patterns. They are very intuitive and evoke harmony. Patterns can be man-made patterns resembling spread petals stacked on top of each other. Incorporating texture into your photos is a good way to create a pleasing composition.
8. Rule of odd numbers
The odd number rule states that an image will look more attractive if there are an odd number of objects. Theoretically, an even number of objects in an image will distract the viewer from knowing who to focus on. Odd numbers are said to be more natural and easier to see.
Honestly, I think there are a lot of cases where this odd number rule doesn’t fall, but it certainly applies in certain situations. If you had 4 children, which one would you decide to keep out of the picture? Personally, I would choose to increase the number of future leads as high as possible.
9. Fill the frame
Filling the frame with your subject of choice, leaving little or no space around it can be very effective in certain situations. It helps viewers focus on the main topic without any distraction. It also allows the viewer to see details of a subject that would not be visible if shot from a distance.
In this lion shot, you’ll notice that I took a close-up of the face, even cropping part of the head and mane. This helps the viewer to really focus on details like the eyes or the surface of the lion’s fur. You may also notice that I used the rule of thirds in the photo.
10. Create wide space
Once again, I am completely contradicting myself! In tutorial #9, I told you that filling a picture frame is a beautiful composition. Now I’m going to tell you the opposite is also fine, depending on your intentions.