How to Practice Photographic Composition

Amazing photos require a combination of good equipment, lighting and luck. But, more importantly, impressive images rely on the photographer’s knowledge of photographic composition.

Regularly taking breathtaking photos is a sign that you have mastered photographic composition. Understanding contrast, balance and relevant points of interest are fundamental in exceptional photography. Familiarizing yourself with these elements will bring you great success.

If you are not satisfied with snapshots and are ready to devote yourself seriously to photography, you have come to the right place. Learning photographic composition will take you a long way, so let’s go!

What is composition in photography?

The word “composition” may seem vague, but it makes sense given the scope of what the term covers. Every aspect of creating a photo, from framing to choosing a subject, is part of photographic composition.

Considering the effects of balance, framing, and lighting are essential steps to taking amazing photos. After all, photographic composition is exactly that – the art of creating stunning images.

Once you actively think about composing images before taking photos, you’ll take above-average photos that are worth posting to stock platforms like

This is where you will go from shooting to practicing real photography. Ultimately, photo composition is about understanding that you’re not capturing a scene; you create a scene.

Stages of photographic composition

Photography is an art in which intuition and creativity play an important role. But photography is also a science in which cold, hard strategy works wonders. Creating a photographic scene requires a few key steps.

1. Choose a point of interest

The main point of interest, also known as the subject, is what you are photographing. In portrait photography, it’s quite simple: take a picture of the person in front of your camera. In landscape photography, things are not so clear cut.

Even if your final photo includes several objects, it’s a good idea to choose one. Can’t decide on the point of interest? As a general rule, a point of interest should:

  • Encapsulate the mood
  • Draw attention to yourself
  • Helps balance the shot
  • Be focused

Note that a point of interest need not dominate the map or fill the frame. Instead, treat it as the final destination for the eye of the beholder. It’s the only thing they need to see.

2. Use contrast

Nothing brings out photographic subjects better than contrast. Differences in color and shading give depth to images. Remember to balance light and dark elements. Otherwise, you risk overwhelming the viewer.

Look at photos of the sun, for example. The vast majority of photos of the sun are taken at sunrise or sunset. The contrast between dark skies and bright sunshine makes these images stand out. In comparison, an image of the sun at noon will be disproportionately bright – in other words, a flat scene.

If you’re shooting a portrait, choose a background that juxtaposes the person’s complexion. For landscape photography, shoot when the color of the sky makes geographic features more visible.

3. Elements of Balance

There’s a reason humans tend to find symmetrical faces more appealing, and that preference applies to photos as well. The rule of thirds can be a useful tool for balancing photographic elements.

For example, if you’re considering a tic-tac-toe grid on your shot (or just enable the grid in the camera settings), try placing points of interest near the intercept of the line.

If in doubt, fill in the box. Surround your main point of interest with relevant elements. If you’re worried about cluttering the plan, use negative space (intentional blank space) wisely to fill in the gaps.

4. Focus the viewer’s eye

Use points of interest to guide the viewer’s eye to important parts of a photo. Appropriate visual cues guide viewers through the components of a photograph like a winding road.

The goal is to prevent viewers from realizing they are being directed. To do this, use guidelines and shapes to give perspective to your photos. For example, a photo taken looking down into a well brings the viewer’s eyes through the photo.

Avoid the common mistake of directing people to the edges of a photo. You want your photographic composition to appear limitless. Don’t get people to shift their attention away from the photo, because chances are they won’t look back.

5. Change your point of view

Truly spectacular photos don’t use traditional perspectives. Taking a picture of a building from a street at eye level is neither interesting nor unique.

Unique photos force you to get creative with your positioning. Experimenting with perspective changes the impression your subject has on viewers.

Going down with your camera and pointing up, your subject looks powerful and imposing. Going up high and pointing down makes your subject look small and innocuous.

There are many other ways perspective can improve photo composition. Be creative and experiment, and you might get mind-blowing results!

Benefits of Photo Editing

Digital imaging technology has enabled new levels of utility and creativity. They allow photographers to make corrections, enhance contrast or create a composite image.

Photo editing puts the artistic control in the hands of the photographer. With digital image editing software, you can fix lighting issues, lens smudges, and backgrounds in post-production. Photo editing also means you don’t have to rewind as often, saving you time and fuel.

But the most obvious benefit of photo editing is the ability to separate subjects from scenes. A free image background remover tool makes it easy for anyone to do it with just one click.

Such software means you can place your subjects wherever you want. The Swiss Alps, a Caribbean beach or a moon resort are all feasible options. Hooray for creative control!

successful photographers

Practicing photographic composition is not super difficult. Successful photographers share the strategies that work best. Contrast, balance, focus and perspective are just a few examples of the basics of photography.

Learning the methods will undoubtedly make you a better photographer. So get out there and start taking amazing photos!

Michael E. Marquez