Welcome to Day 6, lets talk composition.

Composition refers to how you lay out the scene in front of you.  The angle you shoot, where each element sits within the frame, and overall how you arrange the contents of the photograph.

The rule of thirds

This is a really good foundational rule for creating really interesting visual space in your photo.

Imagine a tic-tac-toe board when you look through your viewfinder.  You want to line up the point of interest where the lines meet each other.  When you compose your photo, line up the point of interest at either 1/3 to the right or left of the frame, and/or the top or bottom 1/3.

Think of it this way: you want to give your subject room to breathe in the frame.  If you do decide to shoot someone straight in the middle, line up their eyes with the top 1/3 line like below:


The same thing applies to landscapes.  In the next photo I lined up the boats at the top 1/3 of the frame, left some space in the middle, then placed the rocks at the bottom 1/3.

san diego marina rule of thirds


On the portrait below, I lined up the models face with the top left 1/3 line intersection, and placed his hands and cocktail along the left vertical 1/3 line:


Give your subject room in the frame

It’s important to make sure you give your subject room to breathe.  If it is a moving object, give it space to travel into.

I caught this photo of a motorcycle rider in the country side of Lake Como in Italy.  It makes sense to leave some space in the left side of the frame so the motorcycle can move into it.




Here was a quick-moving car that used the same idea behind the composition:

motion blur car milan

Fill up the frame!

You see this all the time with people’s vacation photos.  Someone is standing in front of a massive monument or local attraction but they appear super tiny in front of it.

Keep this in mind: you are not a mime stuck in a box!  Try not to leave a ton of empty space around your subjects – fill that up.

Class dismissed!

Tomorrow for Day 7 we are going to discuss how to find interesting things around you to photograph in everyday situations.