Ansel Adams said “You don’t take a photograph, you make it.”
Shot composition, the arrangement of visuals elements to convey a message, can make or break a great photo. And yet the rules of composition are more like suggestions, meant to guide and assist, not to limit or prohibit. While there are many instances when you really should obey the rules of composition, there are other times when breaking them is ideal. Let’s get started by listing a few suggestions on how to compose a pleasing photo.
10 Tips for Composition
1. Focus the Viewer's Attention Decide the subject that you most want clearly conveyed to the viewer. If it’s a landscape photo, the focus might be a tree, a mountain, a sunset, or the ripples in a lake. For a portrait, focus on the face, maybe the eyes or lips. Scorpion Bay has numerous coves, lovely vegetation and striking mountain spots you’ll want viewers to focus on.
2. The Rule of Thirds: The Rule of Thirds is one of the most common camera framing techniques used in photography. Imagine a tic-tac-toe board — two lines running vertical, and two more running horizontal, creating nine equal sections. The lines will intersect at four points and since the viewers’ eyes are naturally drawn to those points, place the important part of the image on the intersecting lines. That might be the eye of a bird, the center of a flower or a person in a boat. In landscapes, place the horizon along one of the horizontal lines. Different camera framing will tell a different story. However, keep in mind that sometimes just placing your subject right in the center of your photo is the perfect spot.
3. Balance and Symmetry: Visual balance brings a certain stability to an image. This is often dependent on the size and number of objects within a scene. Objects on the right side of a frame tend to carry more visual weight than objects on the left, so keep that in mind as you compose your scene. Consider using symmetry in your scene as well, where one half of an image is nearly identical to the other, such as the mirror-like reflection of a landscape on water.
4. Leading Lines: Leading lines are actual lines in a shot that lead the eye to key elements in the scene. Straight, curved, or angular lines can lead viewers to a certain subject or off into infinity. Lines can be natural or man-made, such as a road, a line of trees, a river, a bridge or anything that might connect the foreground to the background of a scene. Decide where you want your viewer’s gaze to go and keep re-composing the frame until the lines lead there.
5. Frame within a Frame: Finding visual elements to create a frame within the image is always fun. It might be a door, a window, an arch, branches or tree trunks. The possibilities are unlimited. You can even consider carrying the outer side of an actual photo frame with you.
6. Look for Triangles: Triangles create a strong visual impact. All you need are three visual points that are in a somewhat triangular formation. The viewer’s imagination will connect the dots and tie all elements of the photograph together. Don’t worry if it’s not completely confined inside the frame.
7. Unusual Vantage Points: Try shooting from an unexpected place and take viewers on a unique journey. Maybe go on top of a building (safety first, please), inside a cave, behind a log or whatever else you discover. Drones are also a popular way to gather previously unseen views.
8. Depth of Field: The depth of field is the distance between the nearest and the furthest objects that are in focus in an image. To achieve a shallower DoF, you can either move closer to your subject or open up your aperture. For greater DoF, move away from your subject or close down your aperture. A large depth of field has more objects in focus.
9. Show Subjects in Motion: Use the top and bottom of the frame to allow motion toward the background or foreground. Adjust your shutter speed to show a boat speeding across Lake Pleasant, or your kids water skiing behind a boat. Opt for fast shutter speeds to capture the movement clearly.
10. Show Interaction: In addition to physical motion, it’s nice to capture the interaction between subjects, whether living or manmade. This produces a sense of “being in the moment.” Capture the characters around Scorpion Bay, whether people or wildlife. They might be laughing, running, flying, or dancing. There’s always something interesting to capture!
These tips will help you achieve better composition, but none of these are actual “rules.” They are meant to be broken, as there is no perfect way to compose a photo. By experimenting constantly, you’ll find your own unique style that creates a photo people will remember.
Scorpion Bay is Arizona’s premier floating playground, offering everything from daily pontoon and ski boat rentals to slips for harboring your yacht (or dinghy). Come for the fishing or come for the frolicking—either way, incredible mountain views, fantastic dining and world-class marina services await less than an hour out of Phoenix. https://www.scorpionbayaz.com/