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13 Composition Rules to Take Your Photography from Boring to Striking

Do you struggle with taking interesting photos for your blog? Click here to find 13 composition rules to improve your photography including examples of perspective, framing, rule of thirds and more creative inspiration. #blogphotography #photographytips #composition

I love photography. It is such a fun way to express myself and create art.

Photography can be abstract and expressive or it can be literal and tangible.

You are trying to catch someone’s attention or express an idea. It can be still life like flat lay photography or it can be lifestyle photography.

One way to express yourself in photography is through composition.

What is Composition?

Composition is the placement or arrangement of visual elements of a photograph to make it more appealing or interesting for the viewer.

Why is it Important?

Good composition can take a boring photograph and make it amazing. It draws the readers eye and attention to the mood and emotion you are trying to express with your photo.

What are the Rules of Composition?

1. Rule of Thirds

This is the most popular composition rule in photography. Basically, you divide your viewfinder into 9 equal squares. Then you put the most important part of your image in the intersection of those lines. This keeps the subject out of the middle of the photo and makes it more visually appealing for the eye.This is what the rule of thirds grid looks like. You want to align your subject where the lines intersect.

2. Leading Lines

There are lines all around us. We can use those lines (buildings, roads, etc) to lead the eye through the photograph in a very appealing way.In this photo, the lines of the walkway lead to my family (my boys are way taller now!)  These tall trees lead your eye right up to the blue sky.

3. Different Perspective

When you are first starting out, you are usually taking a photo straight on as you see it with your camera.

To shake things up, you should try a different perspective. This means you should shoot from low or high to mix up the view and see things you hadn’t seen before.


In this photo, I walked all the way around this arch before I found the perspective I wanted. I am also shooting from low so I can get the arch and background in the shot.

To take this shot, I got low so I could see the spray cans in the foreground. That made the composition more interesting.

4. Clean Background

When you are looking through the viewfinder to take a picture, you should look in the background to see if there is anything distracting you should take away. This means you may have to move a subject because a tree is coming out of their head.

You should also check the corners of the photo to see if there are things that are peeking in that shouldn’t be. These distractions are easier to fix in the moment than later in Photoshop.

In the picture above, I waited for a man and his dog to walk across the bridge and out of view before I took it so they wouldn’t be distracting.

5. Symmetry

Whether it is a face or a building or whatever, if you make things even on both sides of the photo, it can add a graphic dimension to the photograph.

In the photo above, if you folded the photo in half, it would look the same on both sides (minus the crane). This is symmetry.

6. Patterns

Patterns make a photo look interesting. Even a break in a pattern can draw the eye and make the viewer think.

For this shot of Cadillac Ranch, I used the pattern of the cars to make the photo better.

In this fall leaves photo, the lone red leaf stands out as a break of the pattern.

7. Odd Numbers

If you are grouping items in your photo by number, an odd number is usually more visually interesting then an even number. In this stock photo above, three crosses make a great subject for this awesome night sky.

8. Framing

If you can use something in the photo to frame your subject, it becomes more interesting. This could be a bridge, building, or anything that keeps your subject enclosed.

You can get very creative with frames, and once you learn how to see them you will keep finding them  everywhere. In the above photo, the water and little boat are framed by the cliffs and rocks.

9. Depth of Field

You can use a shallow depth of field to frame and draw out your subject in a photo. While they might blend in if the whole photo is in focus, by blurring the background you bring your subject into the spotlight.

The leaves on this tree stand out from the background because of the shallow depth of field.

I used shallow depth of field in the picture above to pull out the squirrel from the leaves of the tree.

To learn about aperture and how it affects Depth of Field, read this blog post —> 10 Steps to Manual Mode: Aperture Basics.

10. Close Crop

Depending on what you are shooting, you may decide to shoot a wide, all encompassing shot or a close up intimate shot. By cropping in closer, you make you subject the main focus. This can make for a more interesting composition.

This is the full view of the front of the tractor. I am already fairly close, because you can’t see the whole tractor.

But when you get even closer, you can see the details of the tractor that make for a better photo.

11. S curve

Just like in leading lines, using a S curve can increase the strength of your composition. Common S curves are streets, rivers and clothing. In the photo above, the gravel road leads your eye through the aspen forest.

12. Shapes

You can use shapes in your photographs to increase drama and strengthen your composition. Circles, ovals, squares and triangles are the most popular, but any shape will do.

In the stock image above, the circle composition is strong because they chose to use almost all circles (except the spoon) which makes the photo better.

13. Reflections

There is just something about reflections that draws the eye into a photograph. Whether it is a lake, a puddle, or a mirror; refections make for a more interesting picture. I love this image I took of the reflections of the cows and the mountains in an alpine lake.

Rules Are Made To Be Broken:

As with most rules, they can be broken. These rules of composition will help you get more interesting compositions in your photos. But you don’t have to follow them to have great pictures. Use them as a guideline and then do what you think is best for your photos.

Action Steps:

  1. Read through the explanations and look at the examples of each rule of composition.
  2. Choose a couple of rules that you haven’t used before.
  3. Get out and shoot, trying to add these elements of composition to strengthen your photos.

Photography can be a confusing skill to learn: shoot manual, have good light, good composition and bring it all together before you press the shutter button. It can make you crazy, right?

Well, at first it can be overwhelming. But if you intentionally try to master one part of it at a time, it will become easier. Pretty soon, you won’t be sweating the small stuff and you can enjoy photography as a relaxing hobby that will stretch your creativity.

Resources:

Top 10 Photography Composition Rules @ Photography Mad

The Golden Ratio in Photography @ Icon Photography School

Divine Composition with Fibonacci’s Ratio @ Digital Photography School

composition pin

What is your favorite rule of composition? Let us know in the comments below. And if you found this post helpful, please share. Thanks!

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iPhone Photography: Learning to Rock the Camera You Always Have With You

Do you use your iPhone for blogging photography? Click here to rock the camera you always have with these tips, tricks and apps for your phone. #iphonephotography #blogging

Do you have an iPhone (or smart phone)? I’ll bet you take it with you everywhere. It never leaves your side. You even take it to the bathroom and to bed. Ask me how I know.

Smart phone cameras have increased in quality so much since they were invented 10 years ago. What where grainy images and small file sizes have increased to better quality photos.

How do I take my iPhone images to the next level?

By taking your iPhone photography seriously, you can really step up the quality of your images. Don’t just whip it out, take a picture and go.

Be intentional and thoughtful with your photos and you will see a big change in the quality of the images.

Do I need the latest version of iPhone to make it work?

Not exactly, but the newer the better. Here is my phone upgrade policy: I always upgrade one phone behind the newest model. Why? It’s cheaper.

Also, they usually work out the glitches by then. So right now I have an iPhone 6s plus. Soon I will be upgrading to 7 because the 8 just came out. So to answer the question, you don’t need the absolute latest iPhone (or Android) to get great pictures, but they do up their game with each new device, so you don’t want to be too far behind.

iPhone Do’s:

  1. Slow down-don’t just snap and go. Take a look at your surroundings and things in the picture that you may not want. It is so much easier to decrease distractions while you are taking the picture than to have to edit them out later.
  2. Clean your lens-it’s crazy how dirty your lens can get in your pocket or purse. Just take a second to wipe it with a cloth (or your shirt) before you take a picture.
  3. Keep it steady-you don’t want blurry pictures. By keeping your arms closer to your body and staying still, your photos will come out much clearer.
  4. Know the limits of the device you are using-Phone manufacturers make big claims on how awesome their phones are. Test them out ahead of time so you know how the camera functions in low light or zoom before you need to use them.
  5. Make sure you have enough light-Light is key in photography. Using natural light when possible will make your photos so much better.
  6. Focus on the right spot-Get your focal spot clear by tapping on the phone screen where you want your focus to be. This will make your photos much clearer.

iPhone Don’ts:

  1. Zoom with your fingers (zoom with your feet)-The phone zoom is notoriously bad and grainy. Instead of pinching your fingers for zoom, move your feet closer to the subject. Or take the picture and then crop in later.
  2. Use the flash-The phone flash isn’t going to be very good. Either use natural light or an external flash for better photos.
  3. Get in a hurry-Like I said above, take your time and look at things from different angles and perspectives. Don’t just take the first shot and go home. Good photography takes time and intention.
  4. Overdo the filters-I love a good filter as much as the next guy, but keep things simple. Use filters to express your style, but keep the photography clean and fresh.

Extra Tips to Rock Your iPhone:

  • To take pictures from a locked screen, just swipe left.
  • To lighten a picture, just tap and then increase exposure by scrolling up by the sun.
  • If you have a photo that you want to see what is inside and outside at the same time, try HDR mode.
  • To take many shots in a row (like burst mode), just press and hold your camera button to take many pictures at once.
  • To take a photo that is wider than normal, without using pano, just take a video and then use the camera button to take photos during the video (you can erase the video when you are done).
  • Use the grid on the camera to get stronger composition by following the rule of thirds.

Awesome Apps to Edit your iPhone Photos:

  1. Snapseed-Free app for great iPhone editing. I have included a fun tutorial from Happy Grey Lucky in the resources at the bottom of the post where she uses this app.
  2. Lens Distortions-Free app. You can use this app to add lens flares and other elements to your photos for cool effects.
  3. VSCO-Free trial, and then $19.99 a year. This app has excellent presets and filters. It allows you to give a cohesive look to your blog or instagram photos.
  4. Afterlight-It costs $.99 for this app. It adds filters and textures for a unique look.

I still love my DSLR. I use it when taking most of my blog photos. But some bloggers may not have a DSLR or know how to use one. Using your iPhone (or Android) for blog photos is perfectly acceptable.

These iPhone photography tips and tricks will help you increase the quality of your iPhone photos for your blog. Using what you have can increase your productivity and your bottom line.

After all, they always say the best camera you can use is the one you have with you. So get to work and rock those photos!

Action Steps:

  1. Incorporate the do’s and don’ts into your iPhone photography workflow.
  2. Try the extra tips to see if they work for you.
  3. Find a new app to edit your photos faster and with flair!

Resources:

How to Shoot on iPhone @ Apple

iPhone Tutorials @ iPhone Photography School

How to Edit Clean White Instagram Photos @ Happy Grey Lucky

Check out our iPhone Photography Pinterest Board for more information too! pin for this post

Do you have any iPhone photography tips to share? Let us know in the comments below. And if you found this post helpful, please share. Thanks!

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