How to create a strong composition

There are no hard and fast rules in photography but there are tricks that can improve your work:

1. When you are including lots of elements in your shot, negative space can be your friend. While putting together a composition, our tendency is often to fill every inch with more "stuff", but think of negative space like you would any other prop. By leaving parts of your frame empty, you can help to balance a busy image.

2. Choose different shapes to include. In this photo, there is the shape of the cutting board, a square-ish dish, and 3 round dishes. However, by composing the shot the way I have, part of the round dishes are cropped out, creating more variety in the image.

3. Place your subject off center. The primary subject of this shot is the cheese board and, instead of placing it dead center in the middle of my photo, I've put it off to the side and lower in the frame. This relates to the rule of thirds, which basically advises breaking up your composition into thirds, both horizontally and vertically, so that you have 9 equal parts and then placing your subject on one of the intersecting lines. Sound confusing? That's because it is. In my opinion, it doesn't need to be as technical as that. Just try placing your subject off center and see how you like it. More often than not, you'll improve your overall composition. 

4. Odd numbers tend to be more visually pleasing. Why? Who knows?? But they do. 😉  In this shot, there are 5 main elements; the cheese board plus the 4 dishes. Try this: look at the photo and place your thumb over one of the small dishes so that there are only 4 elements remaining. Does the composition feel as interesting to you?  For whatever reason, we are drawn to odd numbers in photography which is why you'll often see 3 or 5 items in a shot, as opposed to 4 or 6. That said, rules are meant to be broken and there are always exceptions! 

5. Consider leading lines. What are those? Lines in a composition that lead the viewer's eyes throughout the frame or towards a particular point of interest. If you look at this shot, you'll notice that there are lines throughout: the handle of the cutting board, the breadsticks, the knives on the board and small plate, in addition to the "lines" created by overall placement of the dishes. Also, none of the lines are parallel to one another which creates more visual interest overall.
Hopefully, that was helpful. Now, go forth and compose!! :)

(By the way, the surface used in this shot is Phoenix, one of my faves.)

Join for 10% off! Our subscribers are the ONLY recipients of our sales and the first to see our new collections.

1 comment


What a great beginner composition lesson. Wish you were blogging when I first started out on my photography journey!

Leave a comment

Please note, comments must be approved before they are published


All available stock is in the cart

Your cart is currently empty.