Part 1: Mastering your composition skills:
This is a 3 part series, one that every photographer will enjoy, and can use to sharpen their own skills as a photographer. Composition is one that all artists use, including painters, and anyone dealing in the work of art. So, come here each night for the next 3 days to sharpen your skills in composition.
I don’t think we can learn enough about composition. Every professional photographer who has ever taught composition, teaches composition from a different angle (no pun intended). Each perspective of composition is unique. True, there are the standard rules of composition that every one knows, but, there are perspectives about how to apply those rules that make the photographer better.
Composition is an interesting aspect of photography because there are no absolutes. It’s mostly opinion. Compose an image a certain way and some people will like it, some people won’t. You can argue for hours about why a photo works, or why it doesn’t.
I think the interesting thing about taking a good look at a photo and analyzing it is, is that we can all take a look at it, and realize that it is well composed, and we can all agree that it is well composed. We just can’t tell you why. The challenge is in analyzing and understand the underlying principles, and then applying them to our own work.
Let’s take a look at some underlying principles in composition and then we can apply them into our own photography.
Great composition is the mark of a great photographer.
If you want to master composition, then the first thing to do is to study some of the best photographers out there. Find out who the best photographers are first. And then study their photos. I have a few photographers that I truly admire, and I will give you the links to their websites and then study them. When I look at their photos, my breath is taken away by how well they just apply the rules of composition so well. Some people try to find ways to break the rule, but, the real good photographers just have mastered composition perfectly.
Try these photographers out and see what I mean:
Photographer: Art Wolfe
Photogrpher: LJ Holloway:
Photographer: Duarte Sol:
These are just 3 photographers that came to mind off the top of my mind that I love. I love their photos, and love the way they compose their photos. So, learn from the professionals, who ever you love. Find a professional to love.
COMPOSITION TAKES YEARS TO MASTER:
Just don’t read one article on the rules of composition and think you can go out and have it mastered. Read as many articles as you can about composition. You will get different ideas on composition that you have never thought of before. You will see pictures that inspire you to take and try yourself. The one reason on this blog site I have the “Photos of the Week” is for you to get inspired about COMPOSITION. That is the only reason. To see the photos of great photographers who have made winning photos, who have presented great photos, who have been in the right place at the right time, to create the perfect photo.
WORKING IN BLACK AND WHITE WILL OFTEN SHARPEN YOUR COMPOSITION SKILLS:
If you really want to test your composition skills out then work in black and white. The
reason this works so well is that subtracting color reveals the underlying structure of the
subject’s tonal contrast, texture, line, shape, space, and pattern.
These are your tools for creating good black and white images. Learn how to use them,
then return to color and learn how to integrate color with other elements of composition.
BALANCE YOUR PHOTO. WHERE IS YOUR SUBJECT IN RELATION TO THE BACKGROUND?
Many photos are composed according to a simple formula. There is a single main subject, and you need to work out where to place it in the frame, in relation to the background.
The rule of thirds is one of the concepts that photographers use when it comes to framing. There’s nothing wrong with that, but my suggestion is that you think of placement in terms of balance instead.
Where do you need to place your subject in the frame so that it balances with everything else? It might be on a third, it might not. That doesn’t matter. What matters is does it balance?
Sometimes you can go the other way and create unbalanced images, which have a different effect on the viewer altogether.
LIGHT, SUBJECT AND COMPOSITION CAN WORK TO YOUR ADVANTAGE:
Learn to read the light on your subject. Learn to use it. It can make the photo a masterpiece if you can learn to see the light. I will often walk down a hallway, or through a forest or someplace where there is a contrast in lighting and see what I can see in a photograph with just the light shining on something. Learning to see the light, and what it can create will make you a master in composition.
This is the end of part 1 of a series of “Mastering Composition”. All interested in becoming artists in photography or art should read these articles.