There are many elements that usually help to separate a good photographer from a great photographer. One of these elements that are often discussed and talk about is the element of the composition. The composition of a photographer’s work is something that can be used to make or break the overall image itself. I have seen many images fail or lose their lust just based on the angle the photographer shot from or how they composed the shot. In this article, I will be sharing with you some of the mistakes you don’t want to make as a beginner when composing your shots. Some of these mistakes I have personally made myself when I was a beginner and others were noticed based on the observation and study of work done by other photographers like myself. So without dragging this introduction out any longer, let’s begin.
The idea of having your subject in the dead center or middle of the frame might sound appealing and correct but in reality, this is not the most convenient or best way to capture your subject. Most if not all DSLR or even mirrorless camera’s offers a grid so we can properly compose our shots. This grid has lines that run both horizontally and vertically intentionally or our use. Based on the rule of thirds, the main subject in your frame should actually be placed where these lines cross each other into a full third.
The other elements in your shot should also line up with the grid as well for a perfectly composed shot. I know sometimes this method is not the most ideal in some cases but for the most part, putting this into practice will help to improve your composition and have a basic understanding of how your shots should actually be composed. I have seen some photographers achieve this naturally while others like myself had to gradually learn until it became as normal as breathing so don’t be ashamed.
Another common mistake I have made myself as well as others are not taking into consideration the size of my subject within the frame. Sometimes we end up taking pictures with a relatively small subject in the frame that we were focused on but when you take a look on your image from a viewers perspective, you tend to not see the point. Don’t get me wrong, there are often times where this method of having a small subject is used very creatively. However, in the basics of composition, it’s best to get your subject to a relatively good size so your viewer can understand what exactly it is you are trying to convey through your image.
Frames that have too much happened behind your subject can sometimes be very annoying or even distracting to a viewer. It can easily take their attention from the importance of the subject itself and then begin trying to figure out what exactly was happening behind the subject when the image was taken.
I recommend keeping your backgrounds as simple as possible or not too busy to the point it takes away from the importance of your subject. Regardless of how your background might be depending on the lens, focal length or aperture you are shooting at, it is still important to take into consideration the scene behind your subject.
Depth of field is our friend in many ways more than on if used correctly or used at the right time. The depth of field in our image can be determined by two main things. The first main thing is the distance we are from our subject and the second thing is how wide our aperture is. Sadly we sometimes do not use this to our advantage when composing our shots when it could be of great help. Using depth of field correctly will increase the emphasis placed on your subject within your frame and also help your subject stand out more than it’s background regardless of what is in it. This has helped tremendously with portraits and some areas of street or urban photography as well.
This is the last but not remotely the least mistake made in basic composition for beginners. Having sloppy line work in your image can easily throw off the whole balance of the shot itself. This can apply to each genre of photography from landscape to even portrait photography as well. As I mentioned earlier, most if not all cameras offer a grid that can be used to guide you in balancing and composing your shots very well. Use this grid and make sure the lines in your frame match up evenly with the lines in your grid before you close that shutter. If it’s a little of then there is no need to worry as some shots can be corrected in Lightroom or Photoshop. However, don’t make that an excuse to make the same mistake twice.
I hope pointing out some of these mistakes will help you not to make the same mistakes yourself. Until next time, I look forward to seeing you again.