Photo Composition

"What and Where"

This may sound obvious but when it comes to photo composition it is good to make sure that the subject of your photograph is well positioned in the frame and that there are no distractions which conflict with the subject.

For example, this photograph records happy memories of a holiday in the sun with a girl friend.

Photo Composition

If you took the photograph, would you be pleased with it when you returned home?

Possibly. After all, it shows the girl in the shade of a palm tree on that lovely isolated beach with the idyllic calm sea in the background.

Because you were there taking the photo, you remember the setting and the atmosphere. But look again, imagine you had not been there. Does the photo make you want to jump on the next plane and visit this particular island?

Maybe but …..

….. can you be sure it’s a palm tree? Do you really sense that special feeling of solitude? Does the sea look particularly inviting?

There are a number of things about the photo composition of this image which could have been improved with some simple knowledge about how to take better photographs.

Photo Composition


Photo Composition



Notice that the girl is rather close to the edges of the frame and the top of her hair has been cut off.

Also, the boy in the blue cap in the background distracts us from the subject and spoils the tranquillity of the scene.

By moving back a little and waiting for the boy to move on, a better photograph can be taken.

Photo Composition
Now this is an improvement but the girl splits the picture down the middle and the opportunity to show off the setting is somehow wasted.

If we move or zoom back even more and reposition the girl in the frame, we can still see her but we can also see more of the glorious holiday setting.

Photo Composition


The photo composition is now much better. It is clear that the girl was leaning against a palm tree on an inviting beach with clear blue waters in the background.

It is just about possible to see that she is standing in the shade of the tree as the sun shining through the palm leaves creates its dappled effect on her face.

The beach is more apparent but seems to have lost its colour, looking more like snow than sand. Also, the colours don’t seem particularly vivid.

Looking more closely, the subject doesn’t appear quite as sharp as it could.

If some simple knowledge about Lighting, Exposure and Focus had been applied, an even better result like the one below would have been achieved.

Photo Composition


To find out more about these simple techniques for taking better photographs, visit the section on Photography Techniques.

There are more points to look for in composing a good photograph which are covered in the Photography Tutor section of this website.

For the time being it’s a good idea to look at some of the photos you have taken in the past and ask yourself whether they would really convey the experience you had to someone who was not actually there?

If not, would better composition have helped?

Photo Composition


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