Journal article Open Access

5 simple rules of composition

Simonx

Today, we will do it fast and efficient: we will discover five simple rules of composition in photography, which can give more impact to your photos, either by respecting them (most often), or by taking them completely against them.

1. Odd rule

An image is visually more attractive if the number of subjects is odd. For example, if you photograph several people, arrange not to photograph 4, but rather 5, or 7. Obviously for some photos it is almost impossible (marriage, family), but when it is possible, try to think about it. This rule is not only valid for people, but for any subject including flowers for example. Why this rule? Well it has been proven that people feel more “comfortable” looking at images with an odd number of subjects, don't ask me why. Conversely, if you want to take the rule against the grain, by photographing two subjects for example, you can accentuate this impression by using symmetry: two people looking at each other can create a strong image.

2. Leave space for the subject's gaze or movement.

If your subject (Man or animal) is looking in one direction, it is better to place him in the opposite direction of that gaze. If it looks to the left, it should be placed to the right of the frame and leave some free space on the left. This is because when a person looks at an image that represents a subject looking in one direction, his eyes are naturally focused in the same direction. Leaving space in this direction allows you to better immerse yourself in the image and puts the viewer at ease. In addition, it creates a certain mystery : the viewer will inevitably have a tendency to wonder what the subject of the photo is looking at, in particular if he presents a strong emotion (laughter, astonishment, fear, etc.). And to experience the same emotion. And I'll tell you a secret: if you provoke emotion with an image, you win. This rule also works when you are photographing a subject that is obviously moving : a runner, a cyclist, a racing car, a flying eagle, etc. Giving it space to “move” makes it easier to move. immerse in the photo and imagine the scene.

3. The rule of thirds

I will perhaps insist a little heavily, but I am quoting this famous rule of thirds because it fits well with the previous rule: if you leave space for yourself to look or “move” in, the rule of thirds will follow almost automatically. As a reminder, the rule of thirds is to place the highlights of your image on the intersection of the lines of thirds, or on the lines of thirds themselves.

4. Fill in the frame

It might sound obvious, but if your subject is too small in the photo, it will have a hard time attracting attention. This is an extremely simple rule, but filling the frame with your subject can add a lot of intensity to your images. According to DZOFILM, most bad photos have this flaw: the subjects do not dominate the image. So get closer, zoom in, do something, but we have to see your subject! This does not mean that it should not be left room at all, but that the subject should dominate the image. Obviously, you can take this rule against the grain: a person isolated in a deserted place and very small in the shot can produce a strong image for example.

5. Use natural frames

In fact, this technique involves placing your subject in a natural setting : a window, a doorway, the loophole of a fortified castle, the opening of a cave, a tunnel, or even using people (like on this concert photo where I wanted to show that I was in the audience)… The goal is to have two things left in your image: the subject and the frame, which is unimportant in itself and only serves to draw attention to your subject. Used well, this principle is very powerful, and has several advantages: it gives a context, gives depth to the image, produces mystery (leaving room for a little imagination if the frame is not clearly recognizable. for example), and of course leads the eye to the subject.

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