Demystifying Compostion

February 11, 2016  •  Leave a Comment

In photography you will hear a lot about composition. Simply put, composition is the arrangement of elements in the photo that make it pleasing to most people.

The first step towards good composition is to SIMPLIFY. So many times we see something that captures our attention and start snapping away on impulse. This creates stress. We feel we have to hurry or lose the photo. Instead take a deep breath and ask yourself what appeals to you and why do you want to photograph the particular scene. Ask yourself - what is the single most important element (subject) in this scene that I want to communicate to the world? How can I best photography what I want to convey? 

Here is an example of a photo and what I wanted to communicate. The sunset was gorgeous and I just had to photograph it. So I started snapping away. The colors were vibrant, but for a photography it seemed okay - but something was missing. I wanted to communicate the beautiful sunset and all the vibrant colors. The colors, the reflection and the sky were all there, yet the photo looked empty. 

Sunset on the WaterSunset on the WaterSunset Over the Water

This photo needed something to tie it all together - to make it go from okay to wow. Then along came a little boat that tied it all together. The boat became the all important focal point for the eye to rest.

Sunset SailSunset SailSunset Sail

Every photo needs a focal point for the eye to rest on. The photo without the boat causes the eye to dart all over. The colors are nice, but there is no element in the photo that causes the eye to rest. In the photo above the eye rests on the boat then discovers the rest of the photo. It is how the human brain is wired. Think about sitting in the middle of a shopping mall. As you look over the area your eye rests on something, then looks around and rests on something else. As humans we don't keep darting our sight all over. The same applies when we look at a photograph. We find a photo visually pleasing when our eye can rest on an element then discover the rest of the photo.

Composition is a huge subject and over the next few weeks we will explore more and more on how composition makes a photo great.


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