Composition – how to take professional looking pictures

Taking beautiful photographs is something that a lot of people wish they could do. Funny thing is that you don’t have to be a professional photographer in order to make that happen.  Just  follow a few simple tips and soon you too can have better looking pictures that your friends and family will admire.

Firstly, be sure your photo has a solid focal point.  Without a good focal point your photographs will end up looking empty, leaving the eye with nowhere to rest.  Your viewers will be more appreciative of a photo that has a clear focus.  With portraits the focal point is most likely to be your subject, but with landscapes or wider shots, it can be less obvious.  Maybe a tree or a small building within your landscape will draw the eye.

www.alisonfrost.co.ukWhen framing your photo, remember that you don’t always need to place your subjects directly in the centre of the photograph.  This is known as the “Rule of Thirds”.  In reality this is actually the rule of ninths, because you are envisioning your photo space divided into thirds both horizontally and vertically. Try to place your subject to the left or right, top or bottom, instead of dead centre in the picture. This will make the viewer’s eyes move around the image instead of staring straight into it and provide a more artistic finish.  In this image of White Wells Ilkley the photographer has placed the focal point of the building top left, drawing the eye across from the rising sun. However remember that many cameras will automatically focus on what ever is in the middle, so you will need to adjust this accordingly.

In some instances you will find that placing your subject dead centre and thereby breaking the rule of thirds provides the most dramatic impact.

While we are considering the rule of thirds, it is worth mentioning symmetry.  Pay attention to the symmetry in your pictures. A picture that is supposed to be symmetrical but isn’t, will immediately look wrong so make sure you’re standing in the dead centre of a symmetrical object if you are trying to create a symmetrical composition.

Don’t forget to change the orientation of your shots, some portrait and some landscape.  It may give you a completely different result than you expect and make your pictures stand out from the crowd.

Develop your creative vision. You can make an object from your everyday life look interesting if you know how to adopt a point of view that differs from what everyone sees. You can use your imagination to show usual objects in original settings or outside of their everyday use. Look at the world with a different point of view. So, remember to look for unusual things. It can either be a small detail or a strange situation. Learn how to represent what strikes you as unusual or original in the world you see.

As you practice and develop your skills, you will develop a feel for what makes a good subject for your pictures.  Get views from different angles of the subject or scene that you are shooting. Many amateurs will not take the time to move around the subject to find the best angle, if you do, you’ll find there are many different photos to be taken of one subject.

Try being selective when taking your photos. Find exactly what you want in that photo, and remove anything else from the shot. If you’re trying to take a picture of a flower, you don’t want a bunch of other flowers or trees in the shot. Get as close and focused on the subject as possible to get the best possible photo.  Move in closer to your subject, then move in closer and take a better shot. If you have your subject fill the frame, it will help the viewer appreciate and understand your photo. When taking the picture, continue to move closer until you are sure your picture will represent the subject.

Also don’t forget to pay careful attention to backgrounds when composing your photographs. Jumbled, messy rooms can ruin an image and prevent your subject from standing out. Also, even the smallest item within range of the snapshot can be a distraction, taking away from the central focus. Always make a quick scan of the room or landscape, then remove items that will detract from an otherwise perfect shot.

One final thought – theres no such thing as too many photos!.  In this digital age, don’t worry about taking too many pictures as this can often help you to capture surprising and unexpected images. You can always delete any of the pictures that you do not like,  but make sure you’re memory card is big enough.

So just a few basic tips to improve the composition of your pictures and help you take professional looking pictures every time.