Becoming a great photographer can take years and year of practice, and many more “throw away” photos than good ones. However, there are a few composition tips and tricks that will help you to turn mediocre photos into something really special and even frame-worthy.
Many of the tricks can be used when looking through the viewfinder of your camera, while others can also be utilized in post-process, with a powerful tool such as Adobe Photoshop Elements 13.
Rule of Thirds
One of the most well-known composition tricks involves dividing the photo frame into thirds, both vertically and horizontally. Our eyes are naturally drawn to the right, left top and bottom thirds of photos, so it makes sense to place the focal point of the subject at one of these points.
When I’m photographing food, I keep this trick in mind when styling the ingredients or the main dish. Where do I want my readers’ eyes to be drawn?
When photographing people, try to frame your subject so that his or her eyes are at one of the thirds intersections.
Also, I typically try to frame the person so that he or she is looking into the empty space of the frame, rather than at the nearest edge. It gives an illusion of the subject looking at something just outside of the picture or the subject going somewhere.
When cropping your photos in Photoshop Elements 13, the grid overlay can be used to crop the photo so that the focal part of the subject lands in the top, bottom, left or right of the frame.
This composition trick is something that I’m still teaching myself to use more often. The idea is to use natural lines in the photo to lead someone’s eye to the focal point of the subject.
For example, a staircase, a set of railroad tracks, a road, the cracks of a rocky hillside or even the lines on a table runner could lead your eye to the subject, naturally highlighting the focal point.
Using Natural Frames
When we think of framing a subject, we usually visualize the outside lines of the photograph. Instead, we could use something within the photo, such as a window frame, a doorway or two trees to naturally frame the subject.
Using a window to frame:
Using other elements to frame:
Getting Up Close
While there are times that the context of the scene impacts the photograph, moving close to your subject, and filling the frame with it, can bring a more intimate, personal feeling to the photograph. Play around with zoom in and out, or moving your body or the subject until you find the right angle.
On the opposite end of the spectrum, the use of negative space can also have a great impact. Negative space is the blank space, whether dark or light, around the subject. While it’s easiest to find the negative space while taking the photograph, it’s also possible to achieve this effect with proper cropping in Photoshop Elements 13.
Keeping these tips and tricks in mind while shooting your photos and while working on them in post-process can help you achieve some very satisfying results.
Disclosure: This post was sponsored by the awesome people at Adobe. All opinions are my own.