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What is Composition?
• The word composition means combining or
putting together parts to form a whole.
• Composition can apply to many works of
human endeavor including music and writing
– in fact anything that is arranged or ‘put
together’ using conscious thought.
Aims & Objectives for the Class
To develop an understanding & Document Composition and the elements of
composition to aid your own visual studies.
To look at the work of artists who demonstrate the elements of composition
within their work.
All learners will:
Investigate/research elements of composition.
Most Learners will:
Will find examples of elements of composition in their own work, print these
images out and place in their sketchbook and write about this commenting
on the elements used.
Some Learner will:
Manipulate their own images to make them stronger compositions and print
the before and after images in their sketchbook commenting on tools used
and why they changed their image
In this presentation we are going to look at some of the most
important ‘rules’ or conventions of composition:
Rule of Thirds
Pattern & Repetition
Learning ‘rules’ about art can seem stifling or
constricting – if all artists just follow a set of
rules then their art would look very similar
and become very boring.
Many original artists manage to break or ‘bend’
these rules or conventions, but to do so
successfully they first had to fully understand
the rules and conventions
“Rule of Thirds”
• Divide the image into thirds as shown – If the main visual components
(things in the image) lie on or near the lines then the image often tends to
look ‘right’. In this image the horizon line is on one of the bisectors.
• [Remember, rules are there to be broken - once you understand and can
Crop & Framing
Cropping – Cropping can be used to
mainly be selective of what you want to
show but photographers also use
cropping within the frame for humour
and in the case above linked with scale
to add humour.
Framing is a great
compositional tool to use
to draw the viewers eye to
the subject matter or can
become part of the subject
Symmetry can be used in
photography to draw in
the views eye to create
pattern and to also
create a contemporary
approach to your work.
Depth of Field
Depth of field is a
photographic term used to
describe the focal area of
An image with a shallow or
short depth of field has a
short/ small focal range
therefore you can achieve
a portrait which is in focus
with a blurred
A large or greater depth of
field with have a wider
focal range and sharper
throughout the whole
image creating a flatter
This effect works well to
Working in groups of two use the your own images to
find three examples of the compositional elements.
discussing what you like visually about the images and
ideas you can use for future pictures.
Manipulate at least one of your images in Photoshop
to make it a better composition possibly cropping the
image or changing the contrast.
Please print out at least 4 images that illustrate
Please place these in your sketchbook and write about
what compositional elements these images use and
why you think its a good image. Use vocabulary
Photographers Who emphasis the use of
Compositional Elements Within Their work
Key photographer to explore include:
Bill Brandt, Henri Cartier Bresson, Elliott
Erwitt, Paul Strand plus many other which you
can find for yourself throughout a
combination of books, magazines, the
internet, galleries and blogs.
Homework for next Photography Class
• Complete at least 3 pages(depending on
sketchbook size?) within your sketchbook
exploring at least 5 compositional element
including your own images that illustrate this
and written comments about the
compositional elements used and why you like
it. Please use vocabulary words.