Composition and Layout in Photography

A photograph with terrible composition can ruin even the most beautiful of images, so imagine the damage it could cause to your design work.

Eye Up Your Composition

First up, a definition:

Composition describes placement of relative objects and elements in a work of art. 

Photography Life

Great. But what does that actually mean? Composition in photography is essentially the space, layout and focus of a piece in relation to the image’s border. A classic example of bad composition in photography is cutting out someones head, or focusing on the background and having a blurry subject. It just looks bad.

Balanced Vs Unbalanced

An image with good composition tends to feel balanced, which bring a sense of calm and beauty to the eye. Of course, using unbalanced photos in design is possible for certain desired effects, but usually text or other elements are used to counter-balance the image and unite the whole piece. Check out the difference below:

Single Focussed Images

These are created when a subject is placed in the centre of the shot and often have a shallow depth of field so that all the viewer’s attention is focussed in one place. The composition of a Single Focussed Image is ideal for food photography, portraits and headshots, as well as making bold product statements.

Weight a Minute…

Any aspect of an image, in both design and photography, has a visual weight. The composition of an image decides if a subject has a lot of visual weight, or just a little. The more visual weight an element has, the more attention it demands from the viewers eye.

If an item with heavy visual weight is pushed to one side of the design, it has the potential to make the composition feel unbalanced. You can offset this bay cropping the image cleverly or adding other elements to the piece.

Three IS the Magic Number

A handy tip for getting the composition of your images correct is using the rule of thirds.

By dividing your composition with a grid of nine squares (with four intersecting points), you provide a guideline that will balance our subject within the image and, more often than not, create a well composed image that will benefit your design work.

Of course, this isn’t a magic tool or shortcut to great design as you will still have to carefully consider the subject matter of the images used to ensure that they enhance your design and do not ruin the message you are trying to deliver.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.