Daily Archives September 9, 2020

Photo by Anna Kuperberg

Big Secrets of Composition 

Have you ever been thrown off by composition? Or more exactly, been challenged by use of the same composition that you’ve used in dozens (if not 1000s) of images? Another way of putting it is, how can you avoid plagiarizing yourself and come up with fresh images?

If so, you’re not alone: how to compose images came up recently in a survey as the number one challenge our community had.

Friends Jumping Off Sand Dune, Moro Bay, CA

And there’s a reason for it: there are two big false beliefs I’ve found that cut right across learning composition. See if you’ve encountered either or both.

  1. There’s no way to teach composition since there are no rules or guides, it is something you just have to feel. I’m not going to name, names here, to protect the guilty, but I’ve heard if often, how one has to just develop this sense of what makes for good composition.
  2. On the other side of this pendulum lives the school of the rules of composition: The rule of thirds being the leading law cited by this camp. It’s almost as though the photo-police will issue you a citation for any violations – ooh, your subject is right in the center, how could you?
Fausto in Window, Sierra Madre, Mexico

As with most things in life, it turns out the answer lies somewhere in the middle. What I have found to be true is, yes, there are no rules, but there are guides that you can follow and from these are able to develop your visual vocabulary.

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