Take Better Photos with These 10 Rules | Rules of Composition

Do you own a phone? Do you post on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter or Snapchat? I have some mind blowing news for you… You are a photographer whether you like it or not!

We live in a world which revolves around content. Our socialising norms have changed dramatically over the past 15 years with the vast majority of us relying on what we see on social media for regular updates of the people in our circles.

Most of the content that resonates with us is visual or audio so no matter what business you are in, no matter where you are traveling & no matter what significant life event occurs you will need to be using social media to share with the world.

Social Media is populated by content, most of that content is visual. So get your camera out my friend, it’s time you learn how to take better photos.

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This blog covers 10 rules that will have you taking better photos today. For those who want to take photography seriously then these composition techniques are essential. Regardless of how deep your understanding is of photography your photos will never stand out if you do not understand how to compose an image.

Let’s take better photos!


001 - The Rule of Thirds

The Rule of thirds is a simple concept that works incredibly well. Imagine you are drawing 4 lines onto your image, 2 horizontally & 2 vertically with each line placed on a third. Simply draw an imaginary naughts and Crosses game on your photo. Place your subject on one of these lines or better yet on a point where two of the lines intersect.

The human eye is naturally drawn to these points and this simple change in composition can take your image from average to exceptional.

Related - Mistakes Made By Beginner Photographers

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002 - Leading Lines

Ooooowee! This is one of our favourites! Leading lines are simple, you find natural lines and compose them in a way that leads the eye towards a subject. Human Beings are curious creatures & we love following lines to find out what they lead to.

By placing your subject at the end of a line your viewer is almost guaranteed to find the subject you want them to find. This is great for product placement.

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003 - Diagonals & Triangles

Human beings have an odd obsession with triangles. Girls love guys with upside down triangle bodies, guys love girls with those triangular hips & we all love a good arrow. Why? No idea & that’s not what this blog is about but if you find out comment below.

Using diagonals & triangles can create movement in your image giving the viewer a dynamic scene. Movement can also generate intrigue with the viewer wandering what will become of the subject or where their journey will take them.

See Also - Everything You Need to Know About Photography

The triangles created in this image also lead nicely to our random tourist subject.

The triangles created in this image also lead nicely to our random tourist subject.

004 - Framing

Surely I shouldn’t need to explain this one to much… Put your subject in a frame & watch your image go from boring to beautiful. The key to framing is to get creative, use natural frames like trees, rock outcroppings or if you are in an urban environment use the surrounding architecture.

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005 - Figure to Ground

‘Umm.. What the hell does that mean?’ Same thought I had when I first started learning about composition. Figure to Ground is essentially contrasting your subject with the background using colours, shadows or changes in texture.

This will allow your subject to stand out from the rest of the image. If you are taking portraits of your mates on a holiday look to place them in front of a contrasting background. Alternatively if you know what your background is going to be then wear clothing that will contrast (be the opposite) with the background colours.

If all else fails use shadows like the example below.

Related - 8 Reasons Why You Should Travel With Your Tripod

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006 - Fill the Frame

This composition rule is great for portraits. By filling your frame with the subject you give the viewer no option but to focus on the subject. Getting close to your subjects will allow you to bring out details that can bring your image to life.

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007 - Centre Dominant Eye

The Mona Lisa is the perfect example of this rule being put to great use. By placing the dominant eye of your subject directly in the centre of the image it looks as if the eye is looking at you from every angle. This gives the subject a powerful hold on viewers and can really allow your image to stand out.

People are fascinated by eyes, this technique will work best if you can find a subject with unique and captivating eyes.

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008 - Patterns & Repetition

Patterns & Repetition are pleasing to the eye and create a calming sensation but even better is a disruption in the pattern. A disruption in patterns will instantly catch the eye of any scroller & have them feeling a range of emotions.

That disruption means more views which for companies can mean more conversions. If you are looking to attract more customers to your business consider using pattern & repetition to catch the attention of scrollers on social media.

Spot the break in this pattern…

Spot the break in this pattern…

009 - Symmetry

Symmetry is a great technique to use for landscape and travel photographers, symmetry can induce a sense of calm and happiness in a viewer. There is something about symmetry that just makes us smile.

Consider those incredible shots you see at the travel agent, that beautiful glacial lake surrounded by mountains. The lake is so calm that the mountains reflect perfectly on it’s surface. Now consider that image on a windy day with no reflection.. it’s just not as pleasing.

Symmetry does not have to be restricted to landscapes or reflections, you can apply symmetry in almost any situation.

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010 - Stop Reading & Start Shooting!

Stop reading about photography & start actually practicing what you have learnt. Photography is not something you can learn from books, blogs & podcasts. You have to actually do it in order to get better!

Buy a cheap camera or take your smartphone out of your pocket & start practicing the nine rules of composition that you have just read.


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Life is Great. Travel is Better.
Paulo & Jacques.