10 Rules of Photography Composition you Need to Know: Photo Tip Monday - Ld

Photo Tip Monday: 10 Rules of Photography Composition you Need to Know

Last week I started week one of two talking about photography composition. To recap, photography composition basically covers how you set up your photographs and things to consider and look out for. I focused soley on the rule of thirds last week because I think it is a really important rule/concept to know in photography. That being said, there are many other components to photography composition, many of which I have talked about before in previous posts. Here are 10 more rules of photography composition:

Using Lines

When setting up a photograph, you can use lines to help guide the viewer’s eye to a specific point in the frame, or just to make for interesting photography. An example of using lines is this picture I took of this tree:

I really liked how the light-colored bark was contrasting against the bright blue sky, so I set up the shot so that the tree trunk guided the eye up to the upper branches and sky. Other examples of lines could be roads, rivers, architectural structures and more.

Shooting From a Different Angle/Viewpoint

I briefly talked about photographing your subject from a different angle in this blog post about paying attention to your light source, and this one about asking yourself what do you want in your picture. That being said, photographing subjects from different angles can provide for some really interesting and stellar pictures. Yes, I used the word stellar. I’m not sure why. It just happened and I went with it.

Check your Horizon

Making sure your horizon is straight in a picture is very important. Imagine how distracting the photograph of the prairie below would be if the horizon was crooked. I have an entire blog post devoted to this topic. Check it out here

Using Natural Frames

One way to set up a really unique and interesting photography is by using natural features to frame your subject. An example of this is the picture below:

This picture was taken at the Grand Canyon. I saw this tree and thought it would be fun to frame the canyon through the tree instead of just taking a landscape picture of the canyon. It provides a different point of view of the Canyon, while still showing the viewer the incredible scenery. 

Get Close/Fill your Viewfinder

Getting close to your subject and/or filling up your viewfinder with a subject can really change a photograph. Don't be afraid to get close to capture a certain part of a subject such as I did in the flower picture below. It often creates a more interesting picture. I talk about the lesson I learned about getting close in this blog post.

Check your Backgrounds

Watch your viewfinder to make sure you don’t have any unwanted objects in your backgrounds. Unwanted objects can easily distract a viewer away from your intended subject such as the elk in the picture below of the buffalo. Check out the post on watching for unwanted objects here.

Symmetry, Patterns and Reflections

Symmetry and patterns can be used to make really interesting photography. Water reflections are a popular example of this such as in the picture below:

Try and look for patterns such as the veins in the autumn leaf picture below. Patterns can show up anywhere; not just in nature. Keep an eye out for unique architecture, fabrics and other made-made objects.


Changing your depth of field (a term I’ll post about at a later date) is something to consider when thinking about your photo composition. You should think about whether you want to include the background, blur the background, or do a combination of the two.

In the picture of the butterfly above, I was at the Minnesota Zoo and the background was not flattering. Also, I wanted the main focus of the picture to be the butterfly, so I set the picture up to have a shallow depth of field, or, a blurry background.

In the landscape picture above from Yellowstone National Park, I wanted the entire picture to be in focus so I set the picture up to have a deep depth of field.


Look for contrasting colors, light, shadows, etc. when taking a photograph. Capturing this can really make your subject pop.I like looking for contrasting colors when taking my nature photographs, such as the picture of the butterfly on the flower below.

Avoiding the Center

Last week I covered the rule of thirds, which tells you to line your subject up at the intersecting points on the grid, or off-center. This creates a more visually appealing photograph versus placing your subject in the center of the photograph. Click here to read that post.

This week's takeaway:

-Review the different rules for photography composition

-Implement and practice one or two rules at a time to see which ones you like best

-Don't be afraid to try different things!

What is your favorite photography composition rule? Which one do you use the most? I'd love to hear from you!

Happy photographing!

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