Thursday, August 26, 2010


Hello Classmates! I know some of you don’t have a DSLR yet. So you can’t really appreciate the lessons the way DSLR users appreciate them. So this lesson is for you! Anyone can practice this week’s lesson whether you have a point and shoot or a DSLR.

This week’s lesson is all about the rules of composition. What is composition? According to Wikipedia:

COMPOSITION is the placement or arrangement of visual elements or ingredients in a work of art, as distinct from the subject of a work. It can also be thought of as the organization of the elements of art according to the principles of art. 

Did you get it? I didn’t. But you can memorize that so you can say that to your friend so he/she will think that you are a very smart, knowledgeable yet pretentious douche.

COMPOSITION is simply how you put together whatever is in your photo. Yes. It’s that simple. This lesson is very important because composition is what separates a photographer from an ARTIST.


For example, I’m sure you’ve seen pictures taken by paparazzi (quick trivia: paparazzi = plural; paparazzo = singular). Are they pretty? From an artistic point of view, NO, but they are sometimes “pretty” especially if the picture is a sexy star caught naked or something; but still, they can’t be called art. Everyone can do that, well, technically not everyone. You have to have balls of steel first. What I meant was that if you give a camera to anybody and ask them to shoot something, they’ll probably look the same as with the paparazzi’s photograph. But if you look at an artist’s photo, it’s very different. It has an X Factor... It has emotion... It has depth... It has ... ART. Basically, all of that is because of the RULES OF COMPOSITION.

Rules of composition will make your photographs artistic. But breaking them can also look good too. But the rule is, YOU MUST KNOW THE RULE FIRST BEFORE YOU BREAK THEM. So here are some of the most popular Rules of Composition:

1.Rule of thirds. It is the most commonly used rule. Have you played tic tac toe when you were a kid? Imagine the lines. Then put that line into your photo. Done? Okay. The rule states that the subject of your photo should be on one of the intersecting lines. To make it easy, I put a black circle at the intersections. For example:

Look at the plant. It’s just a plant. Period. But it looks good. Why? It is in the intersection of lines at the bottom left of the screen. If it was in the middle, it would’ve been ordinary. And also, you won’t see the beautiful clouds at the background. Now here's the photograph without the distracting lines and circles:

2. Leading lines. Eyes are naturally drawn to lines. I guess we can compare it to a sexy woman. I’ll use woman as an example because even women can appreciate other women’s bodies. Unlike men. Men don’t appreciate other men’s bodies because that’s just gay. Anyway, let’s go back to leading lines. If the girl is fully clothed, and her blouse is full of ruffles and her radioactive-polka-dot skirt is so long it reaches the floor, she’s interesting, let’s give her that. But she’s not pretty. If I ask you to look at her “assets” it’ll be a bit hard because there are too many lines on her body. But Imagine her naked. As in real naked. Your eyes will go from her head down to her bosoms, then down to her you know what, then down to her feet and back up again. We could’ve just targeted the erogenous zones but we didn’t. Our eyes followed the curves or lines of her body first. So basically, that’s the function of leading lines. They help us to appreciate all the parts of the photograph while helping us go back to what is important. The subject. Here’s an example. And NO. It’s not a naked lady. It’s just a bowl on a windowsill.

Your eyes saw the line first before going to the subject didn’t it? In this example, the subject is “in” the line. But you can also put subjects at the end or the start of the line. The line will then act as an “arrow” and point to the subject.

3. Framing. No. We’re not talking about photo frames. But the principle is like that. Question: Why do people put photographs inside frames? Answer: So you’ll have a hook or a stand at the back to display your photo! Duh! But seriously, you put it inside a frame to highlight the photo. It gives it emphasis. Framing in photography gives the subject more emphasis. It can also make you feel as if you are in there at that exact moment. Here’s an example:

When you look at the photo, it highlights the bride because she’s framed by silhouettes of people looking at her. And also, you get this feeling that you are inside the church too, looking through people’s heads to see the bride.

4. Simplicity. A simple photograph with a simple background and a simple subject looks good because of its simplicity. It’s that simple. Here’s an example:

In the photo, the subject is the tip of the fork and knife. Due to the simplicity of the background, your eyes are immediately drawn to the subject.

5. Point of view. Shooting at eye level is okay. But soon you’ll realize that some of your pictures are boring. Why? Because you’re capturing them like the way you’ll see them in person. It’s typical. What to do? Try to vary your point of view. Shoot upward. Shoot downward. Shoot sideward. Shoot upside down-ward. Wait, don’t do the last one. That’s just stupid. I forgot that there is this thing called rotate. Besides, I don’t think upside down-ward is an actual word. Anyway, here’s an example:

The subject is simple and beautiful. Shooting this at eye level will make it boring. For this photo, I had to squat and take a picture from below. This way, you can see a side of the subject that won’t be typically seen by the naked eye. Remember: photos look better if you had to position yourself in very uncomfortable positions.

So what are you waiting for? Shoot shoot shoot!!! =)