Aside from mastering exposure, composition is one of the most difficult parts of photography for one to learn. In photography, composition refers to the structure, organisation and visual characteristics of the elements in the photograph.   Composition can be complex, powerful, boring, moody, uplifting and many other adjectives. When you hear photographers refer to composition of a photograph, literally they are talking about things like subject placement, lighting, colour, lines, textures, space, balance and more.

The value of guidelines in some photographic discussions can be a controversial topic. There are some who feels that trying to remember and apply rules chokes their creativity and hinders their photographic experience. There are others who follow every rule imaginable, never experiment and create photographs that look like 95% of the photographs out there, compositionally sound but nothing special. Composition can be so distant a subject to some that they avoid learning it altogether or worse, dismiss it as nonsense, taking a cover behind artistic license and creativity.
Composition guidelines are not our enemies but exists to help us. Let us take them as tools not rules. They originate from different people, arts, literatures, places, times and ideas.

Some common guidelines for photographs include—

  1. RULE OF THIRDS :- Imagine that your image is divided into 9 equal segments by 2 vertical and 2 horizontal lines, The rule of third says that you should position the most important elements in your scene along this lines or at the points where they intersect. Doing so will add balance and interest to your photo. Some cameras even offer an option to superimpose a rule of thirds grid over the LCD screen, making it even easier to use
  2. BALANCING ELEMENT:-Placing the main subject off centre as with the rule of thirds create a more interesting photo, but it can leave a void in the scene which can make it feel empty. You should balance the “weight “of your subject by including another object of lesser importance to fill the space.
  3. LEADING LINES:-When we look a photo our eye is naturally drawn along lines in the picture. By thinking about how you place lines in your composition, you can affect the way you view the image, putting us into the picture, towards the subject, or on a journey through the scene.  There are many different types of line—straight, diagonal, curvy, zigzag, radial etc.—and each can be used to enhance your photo’s composition.
  4. SYMETRY AND PATTERNS:–WE are surrounded by symmetry and patterns, both natural and manmade. They can make for very eye-catching compositions, particularly in the situations where they are not expected. Another great way to use them is to break the symmetry or pattern in some way, introducing tension and a focal point to the scene.
  5. VIEW POINT:–Before photographing your subject, take time to think about where you will shoot from. Our view point has a massive impact on the composition of the photo, and as a result it can greatly affect the message the shot conveys. Rather than shooting from eye level, consider shooting from high above, down a ground level, from the side, from the back, from a long way away from very close and so on.
  6. BACK GROUND:–How many times have you taken what you thought would be a great shot, only to find that the final image lacks impact because the subject blends into busy background? The human eye is excellent in distinguishing between different elements in a scene, where as a camera has a tendency to flatten the foreground and background and this can often ruin an otherwise a great photo. Thankfully this problem is easy to overcome at the time of shooting – look around for a plain and unobtrusive background, and compose shot so that it doesn’t distract or detract from the subject.
  7. DEPTH:–Because photography is a two dimensional medium, we have to choose our composition carefully to convey the sense of depth that was present in the actual scene. You can create depth in a photo by including objects in the foreground, middle ground and background. Another useful composition technique is overlapping, where you deliberately partially obscure one subject with another. The human eye naturally recognises these layers and mentally separates them out, creating an image of depth.
  8. FRAMING:–The world is full of objects which make perfect natural frames, such as trees, archways and holes or tunnels. By placing them around the edge of the composition you help to isolate the main subject from the outside world. The result is a more focused image which draws your eye naturally to the main point of interest.
  9. CROPPING:–Often photo will lack impact because the main subject is so small it becomes lost among the clutter of surroundings. By cropping tight around the subject  you eliminate the background ”noise”, ensuring the subject gets the viewer’s undisturbed attention.

EXPERIMENTATION:–With the dawn of digital age in photography we no longer have to worry about cost of film and processing or running out of shots. As a result experimenting with the photo’s composition has become a real possibility; we can fire tons of shots and delete the unwanted ones later at absolutely no extra cost. The advantage of this fact and experiment with your composition – you never know whether an idea will work until you try it.

Composition in photography is far from science and as a result all the “rules” above should be taken with a pinch of salt. If they don’t work in your scene, ignore them; if you find a great composition that contradicts them, then go ahead and shoot it anyway. But they can often prove useful, and are worth at least considering when you are out and about with your camera.