Basic Composition Rules – Part 1

Picking the right compositions

Which rules you need to learn and how to know when to break them.

There are many composition rules within photography and luckily photographer’s use the term rules very loosely. Most of these are great starting guidelines, a brief introduction to the many compositional rules within photography. To help you get an idea of the types of photography you like and would like to learn more about. 

Every photo comes down to three simple questions?

  • Where to place the main subject?
  • What to include?
  • What to exclude?
Today, I’m going to go through a few basic compositions, what they are and how you can use each of them quickly. 

1) Fill the Frame

Fip me

What is Fill the Frame?

The Frame refers to the edges of the photo. So the concept behind the fill the frame rule is simply that you get close enough to the subject that you fill the majority of the photo with your subject. 

Why is this important? 

By filling your frame with your subject you avoid any background distractions, you also emphasise the subject

How to fill your frame?

  1. Zoom in! Yes, It really is that simple. Buy zooming in you can fill the frame with your subject. 
  2. Use your legs- Run out of zoom, you’re legs are an amazing backup. Simply move closer. 
  3. Crop them after. The magic of being able to edit afterwards. 


2) Rule of thirds

What is the Rule of Thirds?

The Rule of thirds is one of the most well known photography composition rules. 

It’s a use of 2 vertical and 2 horizontal lines to produce a 3 by 3 grid of your image as you can see below. The trick now is when you place your subject within the grid that makes better compositions. 

How to use it?

Simple line up the important part of your photo either at the intersections or along the lines. This will give your photo the balance it needs. 

Like all rules in life, there are times to break it. But I’ll explore that another day. 

All you need to do this week is take a photo of anything using the  rule of thirds technique. 

3)Leading Lines

Leading line to wolf

What is Leading Lines? 

Leading lines, are lines within the photo that you naturally/ subconsciously follow. These naturally occur and we are most likely to do this type of composition unknowingly. However, that doesn’t mean we should be aware of them and look for them. 

How do I achieve it?

There are many different types of leading lines, curves, horizontal, vertical or diagonal, each representing different things. However, the most important part of leading lines, is that it leads the view into the scene, giving meaning to the photo or to make the subject
Diagonal lines are very powerful because they create a dynamic composition and help create depth within the photo. 

Horizon lines should always be straight, even you you aren’t. Where you place them will be dependent on what you are emphasising. This is a good moment to think about the rule of thirds. 


4) Centred and symmetrical 

Coffee Centered

Central but simple is the go to point for everyone at the start. They think I want to photo of my coffee, its the main subject put it in the middle, and while it can work there are a few things to consider. 


It can be incredibly powerful, the subject is open and the photo has a calming effect. But in my experience I’ve found the most powerful centred photo’s have had a simplicity to them. That doesn’t mean they are easy. Sometimes the rule of thirds works better and sometimes it doesn’t. You have to just try both and see which ones better. Once you start thinking about it  more often you’ll know which is better. 


Which is your favourite and which would you like to learn more about?


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