Composition makes you or breaks you as a photographer. It is personal. You will have your own style and I will have mine. They are both valid and we will each develop a following of those who appreciate what we have to offer. So…I do not want to get in the way of your creativity and will only offer just a few ideas for your consideration…
-Get the horizon straight…preferably in the shot, but if not, straighten it when you edit the photo.
-Leave it in or leave it out. CJ taught me early on to either include a full element or leave it out entirely. Example..don’t just show a few leaves from a branch on the side of the photo. Either include the full tree…or at least the full limb…but do not just allow a small part of that tree into the edge of the photo. It is kind of like putting a quarter of a human being on the far right of your photo…you would not want to do that and it is the same for a building/tree/car or you name it. Leave it in or leave it out. Number one example…if you are taking a photo of a person…make sure their head AND feet are in the photo…so many feet get cut off.
-Don’t crowd the edges of the photo. Example…don’t have a persons feet standing on the exact bottom of the photo…give them a bit of room. Also helps you when you edit the photo…always nice to have a bit of room if you need to straighten it or crop it for some reason. I am all about giving yourself options…and a subject crowded directly to the edge, top or bottom of a photo reduces your options to near zero.
-Decide what part of the photo you want the viewer to focus on…what part will pull them into the photo. Compose your shot to put that part exactly where you want it…usually a third of the way across the photo or so. When you have time, look up Thirds on photos and see what it has to say. Thirds are important.
-Detail sells. Really broad photos of something like the Grand Canyon sound like a good idea. However, it is a closer view of a cliff within that canyon, covered in snow and lit by the morning sun that ends up flying off the gallery wall. Shoot for detail.
Enough…develop your own eye and your own style and try not to copy anyone. This is the area where you go from photographer to artist. Become the artist.
The photo attached illustrates the composition point. Taken by Linda in Tanzania, this single hippo was in a large pond surrounded by hundreds of hippos. She had choices, show the whole scene, show part of the scene or look for one thing that might be interesting in it’s detail. Over the course of the time we were there, she did all three types of shots, but ended up with this one that always makes us smile…close up of a happy hippo.