Are you looking for variety in your work? Have you noticed a tendency towards shooting Rule of Thirds or centre compositions? It’s so easy to get attached to a composition that we’re used to shooting or seeing. Me? I get stuck on Rule of Thirds, top right To help you add more variety to your portfolio, I’ve compiled some of my favourite compositional elements.
The Golden Spiral
This has always been my favorite composition. It’s often found in nature, which is probably why I am so in love with it. There are many interpretations of the Golden Spiral, but I like to take it literally. By simply placing your subject at the end of the spiral, your composition can be misinterpreted for an off-point rule of thirds.
To make the image true to the intent of the spiral, make sure there is a sweeping motion that draws your eye to the subject. In the first image, the curvature of the frame follows the spiral from end to end, creating depth and interest in the image.
The second is a placement of the subject at the end of the spiral. The framing still mimics the curve of the spiral, so it has a slightly different, yet still fascinating effect.
Play around with this fun composition to see how it feels in your work. What seems visually pleasing is really up to you!
The Golden Triangle
I was introduced to the Golden Triangle during my very first class with CM: Composition and Creativity. I have to admit, it completely blew my mind! And not in a good way… I didn’t understand it. Not. One. Bit. So if you are confused by any of these, don’t worry! As with anything, practice makes perfect, and eventually, it will sink in. What you’re looking for is a central diagonal and points of interest where the angles are formed.
There are a few different ways to add a little sum’m-sum’m to your centre comps. Here are 5 different ways you can mix them up!
Whether physical or implied, leading lines are another way to improve your typical Rule of Thirds composition. They add depth to the environment and the story. Leading lines are everywhere. You can find them everywhere you go! With practice, adding them to your images will become second nature!
The first image uses the physical environment to pull your eye towards the subject and frame them simultaneously. In the second, a story is developed when the viewer notices the girl watching the couple dancing. Aren’t they the most in love couple you’ve ever seen?!
Challenge yourself to use your surroundings and light in unexpected ways. This is another way to shoot that will become second nature because there are endless opportunities to frame your subjects. You can use compositional elements such as leading lines and balance to achieve a frame, and you can also use foreground elements or even creative lighting in the same way.
Diagonals are a bit different from the Golden Triangle because they are meant to create visual tension. This is definitely another favorite of mine! They might make you think, “Which way is up?!” and the definitely draw the viewer in with their depth and complexity. Being a nature lover, it’s a little harder for me to spot these, but when I do, I jump at the chance!
Fill the Frame
Okay, I have to admit… this is something I need to work on! I don’t have a lot of examples for filling the frame. Hey, we all have our strengths and opportunities for improvement!
This is one of my favorite ways to isolate my subject. Negative space creates a sense of serenity, which is great because I feel like most of my images (and life!) are surrounded by chaos!
Rule of Thirds
The next time you use Rule of Thirds, consider what other compositional elements you can add to the frame to improve the visual interest. Balance the frame, use diagonals and leading lines to draw the eye, fill the frame, or take advantage of negative space. The world is your oyster! Don’t get comfortable, get creative!
Which of these elements do you shoot, in-camera, without even thinking? Which ones are you most attracted to? Do you shoot any too much, or too little? Try experimenting with one that is missing from your portfolio. If you’ve got them all covered, challenge yourself by combining as many as possible!
“If you always do what you can do, you’ll never be better than what you are” ~ Master Shifu, Kung Fu Panda.