Composition 1

Good photography starts with good images. Before programs like Photoshop, Aperture, or Lightroom can be of much use, we have to start with a basis of strong photos. In this post we’ll look at five simple techniques of composition you can use to create beautiful images right out of the camera.

Leading Lines

A leading line is any line in your image which directs the viewer either through the photograph or directly to the main subject. Leading lines can be anything: roads, branches, wires, pipes, the edge of a wall or table, a place where two colors intersect. Leading lines can be subtle or obvious. Use this technique to help the viewer visually “navigate” your images.

We can divide leading lines into two types: leading lines to and leading lines through.

Leading lines to will lead your viewer  to a particular subject

Leading lines through will lead your viewer through the composition in general.

Some leading lines can serve as both to and through

Balancing Primary and Secondary Subjects

Create a sense of balance in your images by offsetting the primary subject with a secondary subject in an opposite position. If your image is visually “heavy” in the top part, place something of equal visual “weight” in the bottom part. If the left side of your image is heavy, counterbalance it with something on the right. By positioning elements of your photo in a comnplimentary way, you can create a sense of evenness and balance.


Some subjects lend themselves well to a symmetrical composition.

Using Negative Space

Don’t think of the empty parts of your photographs as “empty.” All parts of a composition add something to the final product. When you’re composing your shot, think of how empty space (referred to in artistic jargon as “negative space”) can be used to enhance the effect of your image. Don’t overlook that sky, that wall, that blurry background; think about how you can use it to your advantage in an image’s composition. Negative space can play an important role in creating a sense of scale, a sense of space, or simply making your image seem unique.

Suggested Activities:

1. Take two photographs each for these four composition tips. Consider leading lines to and leading lines through as two different techniques, making a total of 10 images.

2. Choose one subject and photograph it five times, once for each composition technique (again considering leading lines to and leading lines through as two different techniques)


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