“You don’t take a photograph, you make it”
I love this famous quote because it embodies the art of photography. To illustrate, 4 photographers can shoot the same model, in the same outfit, at the same location, on the same day, but their perspectives would be completely different. Awesome isn’t it? You’re an artist!
These 5 simple techniques orbit around a common concept. It’s all about the composition.
Every technique depends on how you want to order the elements in your picture. I’m placing emphasis on the you because composing a picture is highly subjective. What could be visually appealing to you, may not be to me and vice a versa.
Before you look into your viewfinder, search for leading lines. These are lines that guide your viewer through the image. It’s the “where should i look?”
They can be intentional, unintentional or natural lines created in the space of the photograph to give it a visual narrative in the composition of the image.
In this image I used the edges on the stairs and the statue as leading lines. The aim was to guide the viewers eyes towards the centre of the image, placing emphasis on the difference in models and similarly in their suits.
Great compositions take you on a journey. Your eyes are guided around the image on a specific path, leading to where the photographer wants to take you.
In the picture of Elaine can you guess what orientation it is? Why do you think I chose it over the other? Comment your answers below !
It’s important to use the right orientation for your image. Ask yourself “what picture orientation would best bring my image to life?”
Framing draws attention to a particular part of your composition. It refers to using elements in the scene, to create a frame within your frame. Get it?
In this picture of Vivienne, I use an element in the scene (the arch around the picnic bench) to draw attention to my subject.
Framing is especially useful if you’re shooting a busy scene or you want to exclude the subject.
Take this picture of Reney for example. The scene is a little crowded with the high rise buildings and enormous art fixture. It would have been easy for Reney to get lost within the scene. Instead, I decided to place him within the hole in the art fixture to exclude him. This way, when you look at the image initially, you take notice of Reney first.
When you get in close, you fill the frame with your subject and you’ll communicate that single, all important observation that captured your interest in the first place.
I shot this at the Brimz Official photowalk in Toronto. We were in a crowded Pizza Pizza restaurant and I was fascinated by the freckles on his face. I mean, it wouldn’t make sense to get a shot from far away because I wanted to make his freckles the focus within the frame. So I went close, then closer and took it as fast as I could!
Very often, nothing kills an image more than keeping ur distance.
This refers to a line that splits an object in half and, if both sides of the object are an exact mirror image of each other, then this object is said to be symmetrical.
Now, I’m not saying you should always centre your subject within the frame, that will be very boring. Symmetry here refers to harmony and balance.
I shot this at Elegushi beach in Lagos, Nigeria (that’s my sister by the way, in my high school prom dress). I framed Ehi off centred because it made the image more interesting. How? The human mind is drawn to symmetry. It’s the basis of what makes someone attractive or not according to Ker Than from Live Science. Therefore, an off centred image creates distortion, movement, it makes you uncomfortable, and that’s a good thing!
The Rule of Thirds
This means splitting your frame into three sections, both horizontally and vertically. It helps if you don’t want to centre your subject. The rule of thirds helps maintain balance.
NOW, FORGET EVERYTHING I JUST TAUGHT YOU!
“Good photographs conform to the rules. Really great photographs often break them.”
All I’m saying is, in order to break the rules, you must know and master them first.
While all these compositional techniques serve as essential building blocks to photography, too much of them can make your photographs feel very calculated, a bit safe, and quite predictable.
Now my raindrops, I need you to use one or 2 of these techniques in your next photoshoot or picture you capture. Then, post it in the comment section !
Until next time !
Enem Odeh 🌸