There are many composition techniques photographers use to improve their images. Keep in mind these are general techniques, and when it comes to composition thinking, out of the box is often the way to go. Here are some that will help you improve your photographs.
Rule of Thirds
Rule of Thirds (in my opinion) is one of the most important rules to proper composition. In fact, many cameras come with a feature that will add a rule of thirds grid on your LCD screen. The rule of thirds grid divides the image into 9 equal segments, using 2 vertical, and 2 horizontal lines. The ‘rule’ states that you should traditionally position the focal point along one of the lines, or at a point in which they intersect. Typically the subject, in a photograph created using this technique, will be one-third of the way from one of the image’s edges.
Creating a Balanced Photo
Keeping the Rule of Thirds in mind, it’s crucial to create a balanced photo. By doing this, you are balancing elements within your image to ensure that one certain element is not overpowering. In addition to this, it’s important to know where all of the elements in your image are located. For example, you shouldn’t place someone conveniently in front of a tree so it appears to be growing out of their head.
Cropping is essential to many images. However, it can certainly be difficult to find the best place to crop a photo. An old photography professor of mine would immediately look for cropped limbs in photos, such as cropped arms, fingers, or legs, saying this as an absolute “No-no”. Keep in mind this is different that cropping after the image has been captured.
Lines can make or break an image. Use lines to naturally draw people’s eyes towards the focal point of your image.
Depth of Field
This is especially important when focusing on one specific focal point that is close-up. Having proper depth of field allows you isolate your subject from the background and/or the foreground by using a wide aperture. If you are shooting a landscape, you probably want the foreground and the background sharp, and in this case, use a small aperture to ensure this.
There is symmetry everywhere. It can be found in man-made subjects, as well as nature. A symmetrical image is often very pleasing to the eye.
Frame Your Subject
When possible, try to place a frame around your subject. You can do this in all sorts of ways. You could frame a person in a city using buildings surrounding them, or capturing them through a window frame. In nature, there are natural frames everywhere.