Photography is subjective, but to be considered at a “professional” level, your images must meet the industry standards of a few key elements. Now, that’s not to say that every photographer has to take the same type of photos to be welcomed in the industry. How uninspiring would THAT be? But, they DO need to demonstrate their ability to conceptually compose an image based on what makes a “good” photo. My Top Five Elements For A Good Image are:
To best explain these, they’ll be broken up into one blog post for each. Today…Traveler demonstrates COMPOSITION.
Depending on your photography education, you may or may not have heard of the RULE OF THIRDS. This is one of the first things they teach you in photo school. Basically, it divides the image into nine sections using two horizontal and two vertical lines that are spaced evenly apart. These lines are the guides in which you should place your main subject, or whatever you want the viewer’s eye to focus on. Now, this isn’t the one-and-only approach to composing an image.
There are certainly times when the subject should be placed smack dab in the center. The Rule Of Thirds simply implies a more aesthetically pleasing comp. This also applies to un-imaginary LINES (lines that are actually in the photograph). These types of lines include horizons, patterns of shapes or color, trees, ect. Any lines that are part of the scene can be used to apply the Rule of Thirds by placing them where the imaginary guidelines are. Often times, you’ll see photographers use lines to draw the viewer’s attention where they want it to go, such as the subject’s eyes.
Another way to compose your images interestingly, is to take it from a unique PERSPECTIVE or angle. In the case of pet photography, I often shoot at the pet’s level to ensure they’re not looking up in EVERY photograph. *Side Note: Being on their level makes them more comfortable and willing to engage with you too. Shoot from the ground, the sky, from behind (just don’t zoom in on the poo hole for crying out loud!), through the trees and bushes. Not only will you end up with a wider variety of shots, it makes for shooting that’s way more fun too!
How you FRAME the subject is a huge part of composition. Using lines is one way, but you can also use objects that are a part of the scene, such as plants, windows, furniture, ect. Here’s a few of Traveler’s friends to demonstrate this technique even further. This is one of my favorites!
You also want to pay attention to your BACKGROUND. Too often, photographers are just focusing on the subject, that they don’t even realize what’s happening in the background. Sure, some distracting things can be taken out in post-production, but the less of THAT you have to do, the better. Be aware of people walking by, big blotches of color, any lines that could act as visual aids, and any other objects that don’t necessarily add to the image. As a pet photographer, I know that sometimes you just have to shoot the animal wherever it chooses to be, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t at least TRY to compose the shot in a way that minimizes distracting background elements. Mirrors, as Traveler demonstrates here, can be very bad or very good. You’ll definitely want to take a hard look at EVERY thing that shows in a mirror’s reflection before snapping the shutter.
So, next time you head out to shoot, think about these elements when composing your images. Don’t just snap away like a madman (or madwoman). I know, I know, but you’re having SO much fun, it’s hard not to get carried away. Trust me, you’ll thank yourself for putting the effort into visualizing the image before you shoot it because you’ll not only have less images to edit in the end, but you have BETTER images!