Photographic Composition: Super Complete Guide with Tips and Tricks

As a photographer that you are, whether you have just started or have been in this world for some time, you will have realized the importance of Photographic composition.

Composing a photograph is the way you have to explain the story that your image contains.

That is, without a good composition, we will only have certain disordered elements within a frame.

It is when we order them that we make our image explain the story we want to tell: the composition is the language of our photographs.

Once we learn to speak this language, we speak it without thinking.

And like all languages, photographic composition requires rules, tricks and rules. If you have heard that composition is innate and cannot be learned, luckily you are here and I can tell you that it is false.

When you finish reading this mega guide, you will realize that you have all the necessary knowledge to make great compositions with which to make your photos speak. Because composition, like any language, is learned.

So I recommend that you continue with me because I will show you ๐Ÿ™‚ . Ah, maybe it’s a good idea to save this mega guide in your favorites so you can refer to it whenever you have a question.

That said, I present to you the topics that we are going to deal with today.


What is composition in photography?

Photographic composition is the art of identify and place the elements of the photograph within the frame to produce an image that conveys a coherent message, story, or emotion to the viewer.

Through composition, we get generate a reaction in the viewer.

Because, although there are some norms and rules that should be known, the truth is that a large part of the composition is based on the emotion, in our own when we conceive the image, and in that of the spectator who observes it.

Composing is, therefore, transmitting our emotion, our history, through the place and the way in which we place the main elements of an image.

How to make a good photographic composition?

To compose an image, the first thing to identify in a photograph is the center of interest or the protagonist of our image.

Once decided, the composition deals with placing it in the right place and shape to give it prominence.

This is done through what we know as composition rules. Let’s see them one by one.

Photographic composition rules

The rules of composition in photography we are allowed guide the gaze of the viewer in the order and direction that we decide with the aim of highlighting our protagonist or center of interest.

Next, I show you the most used and with which you will get better results immediately.

The rule of thirds in composition

Surely you have heard of her on more than one occasion. The rule of thirds it is based on locating the center of interest in one of the strong points of the image.

These strengths stem from dividing the frame into three horizontal and three vertical lines.

The place where these lines intersect is what we call the strong point of the image.

We tell you everything in detail in this article about the rule of thirds.

Negative space in composition

Negative space is another very interesting compositional resource to highlight the center of interest of your photography.

It is based on the “less is more” approach that is sometimes so effective in photography.

That is, compose through a flat background or with little information, with the aim of highlighting the protagonist of the composition.

It is also associated with scenes with minimalist compositions.

The balance in photographic composition

A balanced composition is usually an image that works.

Through color, shape or visual weight, among other characteristics, you can achieve balance, order or equilibrium in your photographs.

I recommend that you dive into our article on balance in photographic composition to discover the tips and tricks that we have prepared for you.

The law of the gaze in composition

The law of the gaze applies to portraits and teaches us where to leave space for our image to breathe and look balanced.

skip this law It can be interesting if you want to convey the opposite: overwhelm or lack of freedom.

In this article you will find many examples built by applying the law of gaze in portrait photography.

The law of the horizon in photographic composition

Another trick to compose is to apply the law of the horizon.

This is based on dividing the frame horizontally into three parts.

Once you have it more or less done, what we do to highlight the sky area or the land area, is that this area occupies 2 of the 3 parts of the scene.

That is, if you want to highlight the sky in an image, let it occupy 2 of the 3 parts in your frame.

If, instead, you want to highlight the ground, the sky would only occupy 1 of the three parts of the frame, while the ground area would occupy 2 of the 3.

This image that I show you below would be based on the law of the horizon, do you see how the sky occupies approximately 2 of the 3 parts of the scene frame?

Fill the frame in a photo composition

Compositions don’t live by minimalism alone, far from it ;). The technique of filling the frame or Fill the frame as English speakers say, it is an easy way for your protagonist to be the undisputed center of your image.

We usually use it in portraits, but any center of interest can be a good candidate for you to fill the frame.

The lines in photographic composition

The lines they are a key compositional element in your photographs.

They are able to act as arrows that lead the gaze around the frame in the way we determine.

Each type of line transports us through the image in a different way, the curves are sinuous and sensual, the diagonals are full of tension and the horizontals are associated with peace and calm.

In this article you will be able to see all the types of lines in depth, I recommend that you take a look at it.

The rhythm in photographic composition

Rhythm it is one more element of photographic composition and is based on the arrangement of forms repeatedly and orderly, and in a constant or variable manner, such as patterns.

The rhythm can bring harmony or tension depending on whether it is interrupted or not.

In both cases, it is a very dynamic element for your compositions that has many possibilities, as we show you in these 10 ways to capture the rhythm in your photos.

The vanishing point in photographic composition

the vanishing point It is the place where the lines meet in a plane in a real or imaginary way.

allows us to add depth to the image, something very important because, as you know, photography tries to represent reality, but finds that reality has three dimensions and photography only two.

The vanishing point allows, therefore, to add three-dimensionality and depth to the image.

It is a very interesting element with a lot of visual power, learning to use it as a composition element will be very useful to add interest to your image.

You will see that there are many more ways to use the vanishing point than you can imagine.

Perspective in photographic composition

Perspective in composition is another way we can add interest and depth to our images.

There are different ways to use perspective: linear, aerial, forced, etc.

Each one of them will help you tell your story in a different way. Always remember the importance of varying your point of view and analyzing the scenario in front of you to obtain the most interesting angle of your image.

Move on!!

The human element in composition

add a human element to your compositions is usually a guarantee of success ;).

It allows you, for example, to add a sense of scale or dynamism but, above all, it helps you tell a story and capture the viewer’s interest.

We are naturally attracted to adding interest easily and immediately to your image, here are 5 reasons to add a human element to your photos.

The number three as a compositional element

The number three has a magical aura used throughout the story in multiple settings.

Also in composition three elements are a magical combination.

It allows you to play with triangle compositions, break the rhythm or create depth.

Get inspired by our selection of images with 3 as the protagonist.

The point of view in your compositions

The point of view can turn a bland image into a stunning one.

If you’re a contortionist photographer, ahem…, surely you already know what we’re talking about (getting on a bench, throwing yourself on the floor, making strange postures is what goes with you ๐Ÿ˜‰ ).

Wellโ€ฆ congratulations!

That is one of the best ways to get different and attractive scenes, varying the point of view is the first step to get an interesting composition.

Diaphragm aperture in photographic composition

You may wonder how the diaphragm opening can be an element of the composition.

Well, the diaphragm opening is not only based on the amount of light that we let pass towards the sensor of our image.

The diaphragm opening is directly linked to the depth of field.

And depth of field is nothing more than the amount of area in focus in an image.

I explain it to you in this video:

It allows, therefore, to isolate the protagonist by blurring the background, or to make him participate in the environment.

That is why it is a very interesting compositional element, at the same time that visually it helps us a lot with the narration of the story.

Focal length and photographic composition

Another element that we do not always associate with composition is the focal length of our lenses, but it is surely the first and most decisive aspect that you should pay attention to.

Because, to begin with, the focal length defines the portion or angle of the scene that you will be able to capture with your camera and also influences aspects such as the depth of field, the lines or the arrangement of the elements in the image.

Interesting, right?

Composing begins, therefore, knowing the particularities of each focal length.

To understand what the focal length is, I leave you this article, and also this other one on how to capture splendid compositions thanks to the focal length of your lens.

Symmetry and composition in photography

Another way to play with balance in your compositions is through symmetry.

Reflections in lakes, mirrors, or other surfaces where the weight is distributed on both sides of the axis of the frame in a balanced way.

Symmetry provides a sense of order and can be very visually appealing.

The frames…