Composing your shot
A photo with good composition
Let's imagine you're painting a picture. You can decide exactly what you want the painting to look like: Which people or objects are in the painting, where they are located on the canvas, and what kind of background is in place.
In photography, you can do all of these things simply by changing the position and angle of the camera. The way everything is arranged in your photo is called the composition. By paying attention to the composition of your photos, you can improve and enhance them.
Tips for composing your photos
Below are some tips for improving the composition in your photos. These are not rules you must follow all the time, but rather suggestions to help you take more successful photos. Remember, with digital cameras you can always delete photos you don't like, so don't be afraid to experiment.
- Decide how much of the background you want. Most of the time, you should avoid including too much unnecessary background, as it will cause your subject to look small and insignificant. If you zoom in or move closer to the subject, you can reduce the amount of background shown. On the other hand, if the background is interesting you can zoom out to show more of it.
Too much unnecessary background
Good amount of background
- Avoid mergers. When a background object (such as a tree or streetlamp) is directly behind the subject, it may look like it is growing out of the subject's head. This is called a merger, and it can ruin an otherwise great photo. Try to find an angle in which the background is not distracting.
An example of a merger
- Be careful not to crop out body parts. A common mistake is to crop out the tops of people's heads or their feet. To prevent this, include some extra space at the top and bottom of the photo. You can move farther away from the subject to give yourself more space to work with. Of course, if you're doing a closeup it's OK to have some cropping.
Cropping out the subject's head and feet
Allowing extra space for the subject's head and feet
- Try changing the distance from the subject. Sometimes a closeup works best, but other times you may want a wider-angle shot. You can experiment by moving closer and farther away from your subject, or by using your camera's zoom.
Moving farther away to capture more background
Moving closer to emphasize subjects
- Try different angles. You can try moving to the side or moving the camera higher or lower to get a different angle. This also lets you control which background objects are in the photo.
Shooting from a high angle
Shooting from a low angle
- Experiment. Professional photographers may take hundreds of photos just to get one great shot. Although that may not be practical in most situations, you may still want to take a variety of shots so you can pick the best one later.
Taking a variety of shots