Basics of Composition ( I )

Photography is a game of visualizing, composing and framingbefore squeezing the trigger on the camera. Close to 80 – 85% of the shot needs to be ready in the mind first before the technicality of handling the DSLR comes into play. Using a DSLR and playing with its settings to optimally use the features is the last bit that makes a photograph. One critical element that virtually makes or breaks a shot is “Composition”. Here are few tips that cover the Basics of Composition.

Composition techniques follow some basic rules such as :

  • Rule of Thirds
  • Leading Lines
  • Depth
  • Balancing the shot elements
  • Symmetry or Asymmetry
  • Convergence / Diagonals
  • Patterns
  • Angles
  • Background
  • Foreground
  • Frame in Frame

Let us look at the top five one by one.

Rule of Thirds: The most common rule of composition that a lot of seasoned photographers easily miss even after years of photography. This method clearly defines the basic creativity of a shot that can emphasize its quality. Dividing the frame into 9 boxes as shown below and placing the subject in such a way that the area covered is approximately 1/3rd of the frame (see image below). The area left unused can be used innovatively to add depth, dimension to the shot. Placing the objects at the power points (where the imaginary lines intersect) adds to the value of the shot.

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Leading Lines: Most commonly used technique while shooting compelling landscapes or street photography. Leading lines are one of the best composition techniques to lead the viewer into the photograph. An artistic approach towards the capture brings out the exquisite viewpoint of the photographer. A few examples are captured below.






Depth: An effective way to create depth is to use lines that lead the viewer’s eye into the composition. Leading lines encourage the eye to travel deeper into the scene. Particularly when the lines emanate from the bottom of the image frame and point to important elements in the background, they can be very effective at grabbing the viewer’s attention and propelling their eye into the scene (the picture above demonstrates that effectively).

Another way of creating depth is by shooting with foreground and bringing in a sense of distance while adding a third dimension into the usual two dimension frame.


Balancing the Shot: Balancing the shot in a contemporary way or in an innovative way helps present a unique sense of visualization that a photographer may possess. Adding a balancing element different than the other brings in a significant appeal to the shot. Using the Rule of thirds and some of the other rules around negative space help further.


Symmetry or Asymmetry: An architectural bliss is what can be achieved by using both symmetry and asymmetry in an innovative way. The other genre that can benefit immensely by this technique is the Food Photography genre. Sticking to the basics will get good shots, breaking the rules will lead to amazing perspectives opening up.


What settings go on the camera while you frame your shot are easily derived once you start thinking in a photographic sense. Look for a photographic angle in objects that you see daily or scenes that you see everyday and you will realize that life is much brighter and sharper than the way it appears to you otherwise.

In case you need additional help with basic settings on your camera please refer the tips below :

Travel & Photography Tip #6

Travel & Photography Tip #7

Or better still register for a one-on-one or one day photography course by clicking here

The author is a foodie, traveler, photographer and an admirer of nature and its beauty. Collaborations for travel blogs and photography for travel websites are just some of the things that are of extreme inclination along with good music.