10 Composition Techniques That Will Improve Your Photography

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This blog post is all about composition techniques that will improve your photography. Learning how to compose your images is a great next step in improving your photography. There are so many ways to improve your photography. I recommend learning manual exposure first, if you haven’t already. Learning manual exposure drastically improved my photography. After you learn manual exposure, the next step is learning how to compose your images better. Learning composition is fun – trust me! It will help take your images from snapshots to work of art. I’m going to go through all the composition ‘rules’ (they are more of guidelines to experiment with) that will help take your photography to the next level.

These composition techniques are easy, but do take time to see and learn. Practice will only make you better, so I encourage you to pick on composition technique to work on and work on that one for at least a week before moving on to a new composition technique.

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10 Composition Techniques That Will Improve Your Photography

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10 Composition Techniques

1. rule of thirds

You are more than likely already implementing this rule in a lot of your photos. Divide your photo into nine even sections. Two horizontal lines & two vertical lines – this is known as the rule of thirds. At the intersections of these lines is where you would place your subject. This placement is so natural.

A few tips when using the rule of thirds as a composition technique:

  1. Place the eyes on a intersecting line
  2. Place the horizon on one of the lines
  3. Place subject on a intersecting line

If you’re still stuck, this is an excellent tutorial on photographing with the rule of thirds in mind.

10 Composition Techniques to Improve Your Photography

2. leading lines

Leading lines refer to any lines in your image that lead your viewer straight to the subject of your image. Since photography isn’t an exact science, these lines could be anything in your image that helps lead the viewer to your subject.

I like to combine leading lines with other composition techniques, such as (but not limited to) the rule of thirds, framing, or center. When I first started photography, no one ever told me you could combine composition techniques, but it just makes sense and will only make your images stronger.

The lines are literally everywhere. They could be actual lines or implied lines. Once you start looking for leading lines, you’ll see them everywhere. And you’ll be able to add impact to your images right away.

Composition Technique - fill the frame

3. fill the frame

Filling the frame with your subject is an awesome composition technique. It really helps when you want to focus on details (like eye lashes!) or get rid of distractions in the background.

You can pair this composition techniques with the rule of thirds or center compositions.

I personally think filling the frame is a great way to capture children. Especially if they are asleep 🙂

Pro tip: Use a longer focal length so that you don’t have to be physically in your subjects face. This way you can fill the frame without being uncomfortably close to your subject.

I use fill the frame in my macro photography work a lot, as well. It’s perfect to focus on the beauty and texture of your subjects.

Color as a way to compose your image

4. color

I love using color to draw attention to my photographs. You can use similar colors to add interest. You can also use complementary colors in your compositions. I use complementary colors a lot in my macro work.

Another way to use color is to help add a pop of color. For example: if you are photographing in snow, you could dress your subject in pink, blue, or red to help add a pop of color. Yellow might not be a good option for snow (you know why) and white will make it so your subject gets lost!

If you know you’re going to a place that has a lot of green, you could dress your subject in red (greens complementary color) to help your subject pop off the background.

This wheel really helped me when I was studying color and how to use them.

Complementary is the color across the color wheel. But you could also use primary, or analogous, or split complementary to help compose your images. I know I’ll be using more of all of those in my work from now on!

Color is such a fun way to help add interest and can instantly improve your photography when you implement it.

Use texture to help add interest to your photos

5. texture

I love using texture in my work to draw the viewer in. I use texture by adding blankets in (especially for my newborn work), clothing, I use texture in my macro work by getting nice and close to my flowers and showing their textures.

You could also do a double exposure to add texture to your photography. In camera or in post processing.

Adding texture is an easy way to help add interest to your images.

Center compositions can add interest to your images

6. center composition

A center composition is where you place your subject in the very center of your photograph.

Some photographers really shy away from center compositions, mostly because they are the simplest composition there is. But when you pair center composition with leading lines, framing, color, etc. It really helps draw your viewer in.

Center compositions help create symmetry in your image.

It’s also a great composition techniques to use if you want to simplify your scene.

One thing I do know about center composition, is use it with confidence. Just because photographers typically shy away from it, doesn’t mean you never use it. When you use a center composition, be sure to have a reason to do so.

Use frames in your scene to frame your subject

7. framing

It’s really easy to use framing in your photography. Look for something that ‘frames’ your photography, for lack of a better word.

I love framing. Framing is a great way to make an image look more appealing. There are many natural frames in nature. You can use windows, doors, trees, anything that creates a frame within the frame.

You can even use light to frame your subject. Once you start looking for frames in your photography, you won’t be able to stop seeing them.

Another way I love to use framing is to use the side of the image as part of my frame.

10 Composition Techniques to Improve Your Photography

8. negative space

Negative space is the area between and around objects in a photo. Use it to see shapes and sizes more effectively, and produce better composed images.

I love using negative space to also show the scale (which we won’t talk about this time) of your subject. Using negative space can help show just how small your subject is in this big world!

Using negative space can also help simplify your image.

10 Composition Techniques to Improve Your Photography

9. reflections

I love the way reflections look in an image. This technique is especially beautiful in landscape photography. But everyday reflections can add so much depth and symmetry as well. Images with reflections in them always cause me to stop and stare a little longer.

I love using mirrors to add in reflections. After a rain fall, there are always lots of opportunities to find reflections from puddles. Going to the beach is also a good way to find reflections.

10 Composition Techniques to Improve Your Photography

10. depth

Adding depth to your image is fun. Basically, when you having things in the foreground (front) of your image, it helps give your image depth – or make it look more life like. It can really help to bring your images to life when you add depth. Try ‘shooting’ through objects to create foreground blur.

I love using doorways or windows to add depth. Like in the image above, I used the doorway, towel, toilet, and bathtub to help add depth.

You could also use depth by using grass in your foreground. Or a pile of laundry clothes as you try to fold the clothes. Adding depth in your images can help the viewer connect with your image better and understand exactly what is going on within the frame.

I hope these 10 composition techniques have inspired you to get out and practice! But remember – these rules are just ‘rules’ or guidelines, that once you know how to use them, they are OK to break and experiment with. Don’t ever feel like your image is good enough if it doesn’t have one of these rules in them. Remember to practice all of these composition techniques – practice is what will really take your images from snapshots to amazing works of art.

Please leave a comment

What is your favorite composition technique? What is a composition technique you use the most? Let me know in the comments below! And if you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to ask them.

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22 Thoughts to “10 Composition Techniques That Will Improve Your Photography”

  1. I wish I had just a quarter of your talent when it comes to taking photographs. Photography is something I have always appreciated but so far, I haven’t found time to study it to the degree I need to, so I can take great photos. Reflection is probably the technique I mostly use when I am out in the great outdoors – when I take shots of a lake or river where you get a mirror reflection effect. But I am nowhere near your standard yet!

    1. It definitely takes time, practice, and resources to grow at photography! But keep at it! Reflection is one of my favorites and I’m sure it adds a lot to your outdoor images.

  2. What great composition photography tips. I find all of these techniques so usefully and will have to practice, Filling the Frame, more. Thank you!

    1. I’m glad these helped! I love the composition technique of filling the frame – it’s a fun one!

  3. Kelly Martin

    These composition techniques are great. I’m always trying to improve my photography.

    1. These will definitely help in improving your photography!

  4. Thanks for the tips! My photography is limited to what I do on my phone so these techniques are really helpful. There is nothing better than capturing a beautiful moment with the perfect photograph.

    1. These composition techniques can be used with any camera – even a phone! Glad these helped!

  5. A few of these I already knew but some of them were very new to me, like the negative space. Thanks for the pro tips! 😃

  6. These tips are amazing and so is your photography! I really liked the rule of thirds and the leading lines. But really all of these techniques have taught me a lot about taking pictures and photography! I’m excited to go and and try to put some of it into practice!

    1. Thank you! Rule of thirds and leading lines are excellent in improving your composition. Practice is what will make your photography better – so good luck!!

  7. Amazing photographs! Really helped me grasp the concepts which I’ve heard of somewhat buy never really understood! I’ve bookmarked your post for future reference 🙂 The ‘texture’ technique looks the most interesting to me – something I’ve seen and liked in photos but didn’t know why I liked them!

    1. Texture technically isn’t a ‘composition’ technique, but it definitely adds to the visual of an image, so I included it. Thanks for the bookmark!

  8. I’m a very impatient person when it comes to photography but I have learnt a lot from your posts and it has helped tremendously when taking pictures of my energizer bunnies too.

    1. Yes, patience is important in photography. There’s so much to learn and master – I definitely am still learning even after all these years. I’m glad these tips helped you some!

  9. This is a really incredible list! I love how perfectly each photo you captured explains your topic too. It makes it very easy to follow and understand.

    1. I’m so glad it was easy to follow and understand! Thanks for your comment!

  10. I had no clue what the rule of thirds was, or that it was even a thing, before I started reading your blog. These are all great tips. I also didn’t know what texture meant exactly when I was reading, but now it makes perfect sense. I always think of texture when I am cooking, not taking photographs. But it is clearly important in photography as well.

    1. I know you post a lot of recipes on your blog, so adding texture to your images will make them stand out that much more. Like a beautiful textured cloth, or focusing on the texture of the food. It can really enhance your images! I’m glad these tips helped you out!

  11. I really needed this tips and it’s quite easy to understand too. I want to take awesome pictures of my little boy just like those photos above turned out.

    1. I’m really glad these tips were easy to understand!! Happy shooting mama, with practice you’ll start taking beautiful images of your little boy!

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