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What is a Composition in Photography

If you are just starting in the realm of photography, you might be hearing a lot about composition. We have tried to explain ‘What is a Composition in Photography’ in this article. However, we have also kept it in very basic terms so that beginners do not get totally overwhelmed. This article outlines the basic meaning of the term and why it is important in photography.

Overview - What is a Composition in Photography

Before we talk about ‘What is a composition in photography’, let’s understand the term ‘composition’. The word basically means the ingredients or the nature of something. However, this something does not just refer to living things or other material things. It also refers to any form of creative art such as music, poetry, and in our case, photography. Basically, composition in photography is a method to order the elements and objects in a way that convey the ideas of the photographer. 

You must have observed that the composition of every material and art follows a simple rule. This rule states that the individual elements and components need to be balanced and in equilibrium with each other. Only then do we get our desired result. Similarly, in photography composition, every element and object need to be in perfect place. You can understand this by knowing that putting too many elements can also make the photo rather distracting. Also, too few elements will decrease the details of the image. Good balance results in good composition making the image more pleasing to the eye.

Man taking composition photo

Why worry about Composition in photos?

Nowadays, every person carries a phone capable of taking great images. So, what is the main difference between the photos that the masses take and those taken by professionals? You might say that it is a digital camera and editing. But that is just partially correct. If you give a camera to an amateur and point them towards a stunning scene, there are great chances that they will mess up. It is not even about simple errors like contrast, shadows, or even lighting. The main thing that matters is the composition in photography

You can remedy simple errors in the post-editing process with various software. But you can only alter composition to a very little extent. Since photography composition allows you to capture the viewer’s attention towards something specific. That is why you need to arrange the elements so that they point to your subject. Let’s understand this with two techniques that you might know. When bokeh effects are created, the subjects in the foreground are highlighted and those in the background are blurred. This keeps the viewer’s attention to the subject of the image. However, this does not mean that the background objects are just fillers. They are blurred and their colors and shapes enhance the composition in the photo.

The essence of Photography Composition

The composition can even make the dullest of objects appear interesting and aesthetically pleasing. Thus, you can say that the composition guides the eyes towards the main subjects of the image. It can be misunderstood here that composition is only used to make the photos appear visually pleasing. However, that is not the case. In order to understand what is a composition in photography you have to know that it allows the photographer to showcase his story.

As a photographer, you only get the size of a single photo to convey what you are thinking. That’s precisely why composition is so important. It lets you arrange and order the elements so that they portray your ideas. Not only just bold ideas but also stories. Like we said above, it is not essential that you use it for enhancing the beauty of the image.

What is a Composition in Photography

Photo edited in Lightroom.

Basic Principles

There are many principles and techniques that photographers learn to get more creative with composition. However, for absolute beginners, you must know them. But start only with the basic applications. The most basic and essential things that will help you are aperture, focal length, and your position relative to the subject. You must remember that you only have a single frame to work with. Hence, these three things are most important. 

A wide aperture will give you the depth of field. This will bring your subjects in more focus while sharper images will provide great details. Moreover, the position refers to where you are with respect to the subject. For example, in certain scenarios, you will have to move further away from the subject to get a better frame. This will be more applicable in landscape photography.

Conclusion – What is a Composition in Photography

Now, we are positive that you know exactly what is a composition in photography. However, you must remember that it is a creative process. Thus, cannot simply be instilled in a person. Also, you do not need to copy other’s styles. We recommend that you completely understand what is a composition in photography and its basic principles. After that, just go out and look for moments worth capturing. You do not need to worry if you cannot get the perfect image on the first try. Just keep trying and hone your particular style. Also, there’s more to composition in photography but that’s a topic for another day. Get comfortable with what you have learned and keep trying to make it even better. 

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