12 Weeks to Better Photos: Week Five, Composition

Welcome to Week 5 of our 12 Weeks to Better Photos course.  What’s that you say?  Week 5?!  What happened to Week 4.  Welllllllll… Week  4 involves going outside and right now it is COLDDDD out there.  If you happen to live in a warmer climate, please feel free to check out Week 4, Flash here.  If not, don’t worry too much.  I plan to work on this one sometime soon and you can just take care of this lesson when the weather permits.

So yeah.  Hi Week 5!  After weeks of technical talk, I’m pleased to announce that we will be working on something a lot more fun… Composition.  While it’s important to know the functions of your camera, it’s now time to focus on shooting images that are pleasing to the eye.  Check out Week 5’s pdf here.

Rules of ThirdsComposition can be defined as “the artistic arrangement of the parts of the picture.”  Obviously “good” composition can be highly subjective, but Two Peas in a Bucket has put together a list of suggestions to help you better compose your photos.  So without further ado, here are few simple suggestions to think about before you start snapping away.

Tip #1: Keep it Simple.

Learn to keep an eye on your surroundings.  Have a busy background?  Take a step closer to your subject to make him or her your focus.  Lots of toys and clutter on your floor?  Pick everything up before posing your subject.  When you eliminate the distractions  you are helping your viewer focus on the moment you are trying to capture.

Tip #2: Apply the Rule of Thirds.

Our eyes are naturally drawn to a point that is two-thirds up in a photo.  Instead of posing your subject in the middle of your frame, try moving them a bit off center.  You will be pleased with the results.  (The above photo is an example of how we can apply the Rule of Thirds to our pictures.)

Tip #3: Keep an Eye on the Horizon.

If you’re taking pictures outside, try to keep your horizon either a third of the way up or a third of the way down in your frame. (See the pdf for a great example.)

Tip #4: Frame Your Subject.

Use other elements to literally frame your subjects.  This can include windows, trees, fences… There are literally endless possibilities.

Tip #5: Fill the Frame.

The best way to reduce distractions is to get super close to your subject.  Fill that empty space to make your subject more prominent.

Tip #6: Try a New Perspective.

Don’t be afraid to try new things.  You don’t just have to stand there, holding your camera, shooting away.  Get on your belly.  Climb onto a chair.  You might be pleasantly surprised how much a change in perspective can alter the look of your photo.

The Assignment:

Use these tips and start taking pictures!  Please share as many photos as you want this week.  SHOW OFF!

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Some Random Thoughts:

1. Don’t have a DSLR?  It doesn’t matter.  You can use your P&S or your camera phone this week.

2. Some people just have an eye for composition.  I am not one of those people.  I am constantly checking out other photographers to see what they are doing.  I stalk Pinterest.  I am also a fool with my camera.  I climb all over our furniture.  I crawl all over the ground.  I always wear crappy pants and sneakers on a photo shoot because I expect to get dirty.

Does it help to have an artistic eye in photography?  Heck yes!  Can you learn composition with little to no creative ability?  YES!  This process should be fun and the more willing you are to embrace the silly, the easier everything will become.  So on that note, enjoy this week and please SHOW OFF your hard work!

~Christen

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