Photography Composition: Thinking Beyond the Rules

Are you tired of following the same old photography composition rules and looking for a fresh perspective? Look no further! In this blog, we will explore how to think beyond the traditional rules of composition and truly make your photos stand out. By breaking free from the constraints of conventional wisdom, you can unlock your creativity and capture truly unique and captivating images. Whether you are a beginner looking to expand your skills or a seasoned pro seeking to push boundaries, this blog will provide you with new insights and techniques to enhance your photography composition. Let’s dive in and explore the endless possibilities of thinking beyond the rules.








Photography Composition: Thinking Beyond the Rules

Photography Composition: Thinking Beyond the Rules

This episode is sponsored by squarespace whether you need a domain website or online store make your next move with squarespace. A lot of you been asking me to do a video on composition but in all honesty, I’ve kind of been avoiding it because there’s so much out there already covering things like the rule of thirds and golden ratios and leading lines and subframing that I felt that because it’s been covered ad Nauseum in so many videos I wouldn’t really be adding to the conversation by covering it yet again. So I thought that instead of doing another one of those videos where we just list the rules of composition and I’m effectively just giving you a fish by getting you to pick a couple of rules to follow, I thought I’d try and teach you how to fish to get you to think about what composition is how we arrange those elements and to transcend those rules over time as you learn to trust your own intuition.

Understanding How Human Beings Take in Visual Information

Obviously when we talk about composition, we’re talking about where we place the different elements within our frames, how we space them apart in a way that’s pleasing and maybe how we arrange things so that we can tell a better visual story. But I think before we do that it’s useful to take a moment and talk about how human beings take in visual information. Scientists have done studies where they’ve strapped special goggles onto test subjects and got them to sit in front of photographs so they can work out how do human beings take in images. These special goggles track eye movement as human beings so they could see in their test subjects what visual path they took through the image as they were taking it in and they could also generate heat maps with the information they collected to show where human beings spent the most time looking in any given image.

Composition in Action

Let’s look at a couple of examples. This is an image I took on the island of gozo a few years ago during an Easter parade through the streets and the subject of this image is obviously this little boy and his face and expression so automatically human beings are going to find this face because we’re drawn to interesting faces and images but also you’ve got different things which are also contributing to helping us find that subject quickly and spend our time focusing on him the one is that his robe is definitely the brightest thing in the image so we’re going to be drawn towards that and the other is this dark cross against that white robe is probably the area of highest contrast in the image so all those things are conspiring meaning that no matter where we look at this image or start looking at this image we’re very quickly going to find this subject and obviously he was having this little moment where he was kind of looking up at the light in the sky it was a sort of religious ceremony so all these things sort of came together to make quite a nice little moment in an image.

These guys are an important part of the context but they weren’t the subject for me he was so if one of these faces was brighter that would have been an issue for me i needed all our focus to get drawn into. This kid in the center i remember being slightly worried about this wall that it might be too bright and steel focus but thankfully it was an off-white wall and this area the image had more light on it anyway so we were drawn in but if. This was a pure white wall with too much white on it too much light on it and it was stealing focus away i probably would have burned this down a little bit in post to make sure that we were still focusing where i wanted you to focus.

Arranging Elements Within Space

Once we’ve understood what sort of elements draw our human eye naturally it’s then a case of arranging them within space inside our frame and traditionally when we think about composition we’re usually talking about kind of x y space within our flat frame but I think we also need to think about z space even though when we’re taking in images we’re usually doing it from a flat two-dimensional piece of paper or






Photography Composition FAQ

Frequently Asked Questions about Photography Composition

What is photography composition?

Photography composition refers to the arrangement of elements within a photograph to create an aesthetically pleasing image. It involves considering the placement of subjects, lines, shapes, colors, and textures to capture the viewer’s attention.

Why is photography composition important?

Composition plays a crucial role in creating visually compelling images that can evoke emotions and convey a message effectively. It helps to guide the viewer’s eye through the photo and highlight the main subject or story.

What are some common composition techniques?

Some common composition techniques include the rule of thirds, leading lines, framing, symmetry, and patterns. These techniques can help photographers to create balanced and interesting photos that stand out.

How can I go beyond the rules of composition?

To go beyond the basic rules of composition, photographers can experiment with unconventional angles, perspectives, and framing. They can also play with light and shadow, depth of field, and other creative elements to add depth and interest to their photos.


I hope you find useful my article Photography Composition: Thinking Beyond the Rules, I also recommend you to read my other posts in my blog at this link.

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