5 RULES FOR STRONGER COMPOSITIONS
5 RULES FOR STRONGER COMPOSITIONS
You can’t underestimate the power of line in a composition. Lines can be used to create horizons, draw boundaries, or create patterns. Lines that converge towards each other create an illusion of perspective, guiding the viewer’s eye into the composition. Finally, lines can deliver emotional impact based on their direction, weight, and expression.
Just to name a few examples, horizontal lines can suggest restfulness, vertical lines lend to strength, and diagonal lines often express movement or change. Thick lines can suggest boldness or stability, while thin lines can suggest delicacy and flexibility.
Space refers to the area within (positive space) or around (negative space) shapes in your composition. Positive space is active and substantive, while negative space usually contains little information or visual weight.
When the majority of a composition contains positive space, it can appear busy, neglecting emphasis on one particular subject. In contrast, an image with a lot of negative space will demand the
viewer’s attention to any positive space. Successful compositions can favor one type of space over the other; there’s no rule about the ratio of each.
The key to balance or imbalance is often intentionality. Use positive and negative space to signify meaning or encourage viewer engagement. Shallow depth of field can be a great method to de-clutter or simplify a scene by emphasizing only a few elements.
Color can be described with attributes like hue (the name of the color), value (light or dark), and intensity (vibrance or saturation).
Warm colors, like orange, are active and demand attention. Cool colors, like blue, suggest tranquility and tend to recede in a composition.
Warm and cool colors within a composition can juxtapose one another, create an overall aesthetic, or complement one another to create balance.
A monochromatic composition consists of various shades, tints, or tones of one hue.
It is possible to incorporate neutral colors as well (such as white, black, or gray), but a monochromatic photograph will often integrate variations of value and intensity of the same color.
Complementary colors intensify each other are directly opposite from one another on the color wheel. Using this method to style or stage a scene, primary colors are best paired with their opposing secondary colors (red and green, yellow and violet, blue and orange).
Opposing hues are “complementary” because they intensify each other. A complementary color scheme adds contrast and interest to a photograph, but it may be challenging to find a harmonious balance.
Balance is an equal distribution of visual weight. Elements such as color, shape, space, and line can all create balance in a composition. While balance provides a sense of order, beauty, and stability, a deliberate imbalance can create a sense of adventure, chaos, or discomfort.
The Rule of Thirds suggests where to place focal points in a balanced, but asymmetrical, composition. Divide a composition into nine equal parts – three rows and three columns. According to the rule of thirds, compositions are most successful when lines or shapes are placed along the intersections of the 9 sections.
The rule of thirds is not a perfect standard for creating compositions, but it can provide a great starting point.
Proportion refers to the scaling, or relative size, of elements within a composition. Proportion can create emphasis, rhythm, and an illusion of depth. Proportion can appear true to life, or intentionally skewed and unusual.
One way in which proportion can be intentionally skewed is through distortion. Remember, elements closer to the lens will appear larger. When capturing a model from a lower perspective, the lower half of their body will appear larger and longer, disproportionate to the rest. Try changing your camera height (stand on a step stool