There is a huge difference between taking a photograph and just snapping a picture. Even the vocabulary a photographer uses is different. He or she will say "I am making a photograph", not "I'm taking a picture." Learn to spend time planning your shot and thinking before you push the shutter. If you are trying to capture the essence of a place, go there and look around and see it as if you are a microscope pouring over the details and bringing them into focus for the viewer. The tips listed here are meant to help you go from being a snapshot taker to a true PHOTOGRAPHER!

Post your best example from the texture series here to illustrate your attempt at each example. Make sure you add your name and an explanation of how you feel your shot illustrates the compositional technique.

Rule of Thirds:

Imagine the image area divided into thirds horizontally and vertically. Having something of interest at the points where the thirds intersect will make for a more interesting image. Composing within the thirds will also help. If shooting a landscape put the horizon in the top third of the image to capture most of the land in the image. If there is a dramatic sky, change it up and put the horizon in the bottom third of the picture with the sky filling most of the space. Try to avoid placing the horizon line in the middle of the picture. If shooting a portrait or single subject the rule of thirds can also apply and having the person at one of the thirds will be more interesting than putting them right in the middle. This is called asymmetrical or informal balance.

Remember......Avoid the belly button: Putting your subject directly in the center of everything, this get’s boring quickly.
Click here for some great advice about how to compose using the Rule of Thirds.


Framing: Using elements in the shot to frame the subject of the shot, i.e. tree branches framing up a softly lit portrait. Make sure that if a significant amount of something is framing in the foreground that it is in focus. If out of focus it can detract from the image.

Click here for some great tips on how to frame your photographs like a pro.


Fill the Frame:

Let your subject fill the whole frame. Move closer and zoom in on the subject. It will be more interesting to see the subject without a lot of extraneous details. Make sure you’re not cutting off any vital parts when you zoom in. Notice details in the background that might be causing problems too. For example, the line of a curtain rod running into the head of your subject, zoom in and get rid of the line. Make sure that what is in the shot is absolutely necessary to the image. Here is more good advice on Fill the Frame.


Level Horizon:

Hold the camera steady and make sure the horizon line makes a straight line across the frame. Diagonal horizon lines will create tension and confusion making the viewer uncertain what they are looking at. Play around with the placement of the horizon, try not to have the horizon in the middle of the image, but rather in the upper third or lower third to create interest.
Here is some other information about level horizons.


Leading Lines:

Line is one of the most basic elements of design. Use it to create interest in your image and lead people into the picture. Roads, trees, lines of a building can all lead the viewers eye into your image and point them toward what you want them to see. The type of line can affect the mood of the image as well. Diagonals tend to create drama and tension, while curves tend to create a sense of harmony and gracefulness.

Click here for some advice on how to use leading lines (converging lines).


Focus and Depth of Field:

Make sure you take time to focus the camera and really hold it still to get the best shot. Soft focus can be interesting, but using it as an excuse for poorly focused images isn't a good habit to get into. Make sure you have thought about depth of field and the distance you can focus on the subject. If you are too close your camera will not focus unless you are using a macro lens, which allows for extreme close-up shots. Usually a good rule of thumb is don't get closer than an arms length to your subject if you want to still be able to focus. Some subjects may require you to use the manual focus instead of auto because auto focus may be confused by complex layers of subject such as flower petals. Remember that more stopped down f/stops from f/8, f/11, f/16, f/22 get better depth of field, meaning more of the background will be in focus. Wider open f/stops like f/5.6 , f/4, f/3 will get less depth of field meaning only the foreground subject may be in focus.

Image on the left was shot at f/22 and the one on the right was shot at f/2.8

Other great tips on composition can be found here!