Leave out all the technicalities involved in taking a photograph, and it’s composition that makes or breaks an image. No matter how technically complex your photo may be, if the composition isn’t good, the photo is a failure.
NOT DOING BACKGROUND CHECKS
Doing a background check on the model for any criminal records might be a good idea, but that’s not what we’re concerned about here. During photo shoots, be wary of the elements that are behind the model or in the model’s surroundings that can intersect with the model’s face and body. These are some things to look out for:
- lines going through the subject that appear to be splitting the subject
- branches, wires, or poles coming out of the subject’s head
- horizon going through the subject’s neck or head
LACK OF BREATHING ROOM
If the subject is facing in a direction without much space in the frame, the image seems out of balance; it might feel suffocating and uneasy. The edge of the frame can act as a barrier between the wall and the surrounding of the image.
Fix this issue by asking the model to turn the other way or recompose so the model is facing the edge of the frame with more space.
ALWAYS SHOOTING FROM A STANDING POSITION OR STRAIGHT ON
You must play with perspective! Get down on your knees, move to one side, lay down, or get yourself to a higher point of view. Many of us get so worried about finding a subject that we forget to think about how we’re going to photograph it. If you shoot a subject straight on, you’ll record its appearance, but you may fail to capture any context or atmosphere. Again, experimenting is key!
A sloping horizon in a landscape or even a portrait can be incredibly distracting, so make sure it’s level.
Many cameras have a built-in electronic level that can be displayed in the viewfinder or on the main screen to guide you, but if not, there are some bubble level accessories you can fit into the camera hot-shoe (normally used for an external flash unit).
Also, many tripods have a level built in if you’re looking into buying one.
Amputation occurs in photography when you compose or crop the image in such a way that the subject ends up having some part of his/her body cut off. Most of the time you can solve this issue by using a shorter focal length or stepping back a bit to accommodate all of the subject. But if there are constraints that prevent using these fixes, you can crop the subject in safe zones, like the areas between joints or mid-abdomen. Cropping the subject at joints like the elbows, neck, wrists, knees is strictly a no go.
These are just a few of the composition things to watch out for. They may seem minor, but they are so easily done if we are not watching out for them.