Composition in Photography: Tips and Tricks

“Composition” is a very wide term encompassing various fields of art. It is just not restricted to literature, music, visual arts such as photography but much more. Composition can be defined as the art of putting together the visual design elements such as pattern, texture, colour, shape, form, line etc., Every photograph will contain one or more of these elements. These visual design elements are the major ingredients put in the right place and thereby giving life to a photograph and making it a stunning one. We have to understand all these elements better before proceeding to know what composition in photography is all about.


Pattern simply means the repetition of an object in a predictable manner. Repetition can be reflective, geometric, symmetric, and asymmetric and so on. The repetition of a particular subject creates an impact in the photograph. Pattern repetition always brings an interest factor in the photograph and leads the eye into the photograph. The pictures posted below clearly reinstates of how pattern works in a photograph. The patterns will have variation in the lighting and thereby a depth in the picture is created.


Texture refers to the visual surface finish seen in a photograph. Texture may sound very simple in definition but in reality it takes lot of efforts to capture a textured photograph. Intricate details of colour, depth and their variation play a major role in composing a textured photograph.  Textures are available everywhere, it is there in the bark of a tree, sands on the beach, stones and pebbles in water and much more.  A simple trick of having a different (other than flat) angle can result in amazing textures. Textures can also be clubbed with other visual design elements like colour, pattern etc. Picture below clearly shows how simply a landscape yields interesting textures just with ambient light.


Colours are the most fascinating among the visual design elements. Colours add to the mood and dynamics of a picture. Bright colours energises, dull colours bring in a gloomy effect. Colours that can be captured from nature include a bright sunrise/sunset, bunch of bright flowers and so on. Colours do add a great amount of stimulation to the pictures, but they do have to be used judiciously. In the sense one should be able to decide when to use colour and when not to. Black and white pictures will be equally attractive to the coloured ones.

Shape & Form

Shape portrays a subject’s unique curves, lines, twists and turns and every object of nature has a form of its own. Shapes aid in identifying the objects. Shapes become amusing with apt lighting particularly with back lighting. Shapes when ventured to be shot as silhouettes result in stunning visuals. Shapes and forms go together. Shapes are usually two-dimensional; it is the form that gives a third-dimension to the object.


Lines bring in motion and mood to the picture and also aids in leading the eye into the picture. Lines can be vertical, horizontal, diagonal, and curved/irregular.  Each kind of line has its own meaning attached to it. Straight lines convey stability, rise, horizontal lines convey stagnation, stoppage etc. Lines also project perspective and grab the attention of the viewer.

Composing a photograph simply means arranging the visual elements in a manner which would give away the best photograph. The most important thumb rule in composition is the rule of thirds.

The Golden “Rule of Thirds”

Rule of thirds is simply dividing the frame into nine equal parts with two horizontal and two vertical lines. This is an imaginary framing done before capturing a picture. In this technique, the subject is placed where the lines meet; they are called the golden points with a view to make the photograph look interesting.

Apart from the above mentioned rules, there are a few quick tips that can be followed to have amazingly composed photographs.

 Quick Tips

  1. Cropping: While taking pictures of living beings, it is always better to show them in full. No attempt should be made to chop off the parts of their body.
  2. Focus: Focus the subject if the background is distractive. In case the background is interesting, do add them at a deeper view. Experimenting with blurring the background will help in focussing the subject.
  3. Design Elements: Try to impart one or more of the design elements to have a good artistically composed photograph.
  4. Balance: Balance here means balancing the lighting, subject, background, colours in the frame so that a pleasing photograph is rendered. The rule is context specific.
  5. Detailing: While attempting close-up portraits more importance should be given to the fine details in the face ( particularly wrinkles in the case of old people)
  6. Perspectives: Experimenting with different perspectives at different angles will also help in evincing interesting compositions.

All these tips are just guidelines. They are not hard and fast rules, mild experimentations, alterations, will also help in capturing interesting photographs. These tips and useful guidelines are time-tested and are proven valuable. It is up to the photographer and the subject chosen for capture to compose for stunning photographs.

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