Photography Tip: Composition Techniques to Get Better Pictures

Have you ever looked through a collection of photos and left totally uninspired and unexcited? Have you noticed that even photos that are technically “correct” can be BLAH if they are not well composed? I’ve certainly seen plenty of photos that were not focused or exposed correctly that have still had plenty of visual appeal because of the way they were presented.

What is it that makes a photograph stand out? What makes a photo something that you want to show off to all of your friends and family on Facebook and then print it at the one-hour photo counter to frame on the wall? It is certainly more than just correct exposure or whether or not you’ve captured perfect focus.

Basic tips to improve your composition:

I promise that if you focus a little energy on composing good photos, you’ll find more photos on your memory card that you love, regardless of the quality of your camera.

1 – The rule of thirds

The Rule of Thirds is a basic composition guideline in photography. It plays on the natural tendency for our eyes to be drawn towards certain parts of an image. Imagine a tic tac toe board. Now imagine that tic tac toe board sitting on top of your picture. The four lines of a tic tac toe game break the image up into nine equal parts. The four points where the lines intersect are the strongest focal points.

Here’s the way most people would frame a shot of a couple (special thanks to my sister for taking this picture of us–centered–just because my husband insisted on it)…..

My sister and I convinced my husband that an off-center photo of us would look even better. He didn’t believe us until he saw the image later. And then he fell in love with it (and learned not to question a photographer’s eye).

2 – Try a different angle

Instead of always taking photos of people “straight on”, try shooting your subject from lower or higher than their eye level. This works particularly well when taking close-ups or head shots of people.

Another technique is called the “Dutch tilt,” and simply consists of tilting the camera so that the horizon is not parallel with the bottom of the frame. While it is not a technique that you would want to use on every picture, it certainly catches the viewer’s attention and can be really fun.

3 – Determine your focus

Some photos require a wide zoom. Others work better zoomed in close to your subject. Think about what you’re trying to say in your photos. Is the focus of your photo a person or a landscape? What ever your focus, FOCUS on that.

4 – Be creative

Learn the “rules” and tips of composition and then be prepared to break them. Photography is an art. Be creative.

Remember that art is subjective. A photo that is very aesthetically pleasing to one person may be completely boring to another. My best tip–Move around and try something new!

Written by Lolli, mom of 5, blogger, and photographer. You can find Lolli blogging at Better in Bulk and tweeting at @1momof5.