Monday, July 15, 2013

Contributor | Photography Composition Tips

Hi everyone! It's Jenni from Jarfly and I'm so happy to be back here at Here Comes The Sun! Today we are going to talk a little bit about a big scary word: composition. The dictionary defines this word as "arrangement into specific proportion or relation and especially into artistic form." Of course composition can apply in many different visual settings but today we'll be focusing on composing an image with your camera. Here are a few tips to help create interesting visually pleasing images.

Tip # 1: The Rule Of Thirds
If you have ever been an art or design student, you've probably heard of this rule. It's the most basic place to start when learning to compose your images. The easiest way to think about it is chopping what you see in your viewfinder on your camera into 3 equal parts, like the lines you see drawn below. After you have done this in your head, position your subject in either the left or right 1/3 of the compostion and then snap away. A photography teacher once told me that centering a person in the middle of a frame would "suck the life" from them. He was a big believer in the rule of thirds, clearly. What is fantastic about this rule is once you understand it, you can break it!
I wouldn't say I "broke" the rule of thirds in the baby photo below (that's my niece! isn't she the prettiest baby you've ever seen?) but rather I inverted it. I left the top of the photo free to breathe while still "techincally" following the rule of thirds.
Tip # 2: "White" or Free Space
In graphic design we have a term called "white space". It's the amount of free space left on a design that helps the viewers eye go where we'd like it to. It's probably the best kept secret in imagery based communication and something artists, designers and photographers use more than anything else to convey a feeling....they work with what ISNT there even more than what IS.

In the photo above, the lovely mama's belly is pointing at "white space" and it's helping the composition breathe. It's telling you how to feel about it as a viewer. If you have a subject who is pointing to the right, then give the composition a lot of free space on the right side. If your subject is looking up, then allow the free space to happen above them. Think of it as leading your viewers eyes and emotions where you want them to go.
Imagine if the photo above was reversed and the free space was BEHIND the mother rather than in front of her belly. The photo would seem cramped or as if this mother-to-be was being "left in the dust" could even convey loneliness. For some shots that would be perfect but not for maternity photos! Be very thoughtful about the free space you leave in a photo when it comes to pointing your viewer towards the feelings you want them to experience.
Tip # 3: Have A Ball, Baby.
Once you understand the first two tips, you can break the rules. I LOVE photographing still life items "as the bird flies". There is something so romantic and whimsical about it. Doing this with people can be challenging but absolutely stunning when done well. It also is a fantastic way to photograph food for those of you cooks out there.
Centering your subject in the middle of the frame completely breaks the "rule of thirds". However doing this where appropriate can really communicate a bold statement. I don't know exactly what the photo below "says", but to me it looks like adventure and living honestly. Somehow, centering the shoes in the frame has a lot to do with this.

The point is: Once you nail Tips #1 and #2, you really can become creative and experiment in far more ways than I've shown you. The key is to fall in love with your camera and shoot until you will discover so much! I hope you've enjoyed these basic composition tips and happy trails to you as you embark on your next camera adventure!

Jenni Kueplian
Here Comes the Sun Contributor


  1. This is such a helpful post!

    Katie x

  2. Great post, love the tips :)

  3. I love this post! U have shown very useful tips for people like me who is awful at photography. Seriously, I think this is one of the best you have ever made! thanks a lot! :D

  4. spot on!

  5. Thank you I really enjoyed this post, and learned some things too, now to share with my bf & mum who I often get to photograph me for outfit posts - then I wont have to be model and director at the same time :) hehe.

  6. Thanks for sharing! Learnt so much <3

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  8. Couldn't help but pin the photo of the figs, so pretty :)

  9. This is really great! Simple and clean and the photographs chosen are the perfect match to your tips

  10. I'm new to your blog. Thanks for sharing these tips. I learned a lot. :)

    - Karina

  11. Such great advice. I love how once you know the rule, you can break it. It's so true! Thanks for sharing!

  12. The tips are so handy - I love the photographs too! Now I feel like i get the picture, let's see if I can get the picture! ;)
    Thank you for sharing this!


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