Basic composition in photography and video

No matter what camera you’re using, from an entry level point-and-shoot to a high-end dSLR, simple changes in how you compose your photo (scene) can turn a lackluster picture into an engaging one. By taking the time to carefully compose your photo, you can draw in your audience and communicate the story and emotion behind the photo more effectively.  Here are a couple of simple steps to improve your photos now!


It’s human nature for your eyes to instantly focus on your subject and ignore everything else when you look through the viewfinder of your camera or its LCD panel. However, remember that your camera records everything within view. It can not discriminate between subject and background. It has no way of knowing, that the bright red stop sign is going to be an eyesore in your otherwise beautiful photo.

You’d think that something as obtrusive as a large road sign would jump out at you immediately, but it’s not necessarily the case. Have you ever looked at your pictures and thought, “Why didn’t I notice all wires in the photo.  Any background clutter in your photo pulls your eye away from the subject, so your eye is fighting to focus on what is really important.

So your first compositional technique is:

Scan the four corners…

You can avoid this problem very simply. Once you have your photo composed, let your eyes sweep to each of the four corners of the viewfinder. This simple exercise takes your eye away from the subject and forces you to consider the background. Make it a habit to always take this step before clicking the shutter and you won’t be disappointed by distracting backgrounds again.

Light can be clutter, too. When you check your corners, look for light that competes with your subject.

Once you find the problem, how do you fix it? Removing the item is the easiest option. If it is a stationary object, you may need to simply move yourself and/or your subject to remove it from view. If neither of these options is available, try using a shallow depth of field (Low aperture setting) to blur the background.

Practice this techniques for the next class.


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