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Keeping it Simple: The Rules of Composition


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A simple presentation on some of the rules of composition with examples from National Geographic.

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Keeping it Simple: The Rules of Composition

  1. 1. Rules of Composition How to take a great photo
  2. 2. Note• The following examples are taken from the National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest submissions, 2012.• Other entries can be found here.
  3. 3. • Strong point of interest – The most important elements dominate the photo and are forward in it; clutter is eliminated.A portrait of an oldBurmese woman;Burma © LeonShkolnik
  4. 4. • Contrast – Compose photographs with differences in light, color and size.Lava Kiss; Kalapana,Hawaii © Dallas NagataWhite
  5. 5. • Asymmetry – Photographs need not be symmetrical. Asymmetry often works better. Place the main object off center.Taking Off FromChelatna Lake;Alaska © JanetKotwas
  6. 6. • Point of view – Look at the subject from an unexpected angle; maybe above or below the subject. Spiral Down; Vatican Museum © Syaza Mohammed Shakharulain
  7. 7. • Rule of Thirds – Think of your frame in thirds, horizontally and vertically like a tic-tac-toe board. Put the subject at the intersection of any two lines. Your life is your own; Colorado Springs © Tareyn Kaster
  8. 8. • Break the Pattern – Look at what is out of place. It adds interest. The Rainbow Man; Kuala Lumpur, © Ahmad Izzrafiq Alias/National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest
  9. 9. • Shoot verbs, not nouns – Try the sports setting for action shots.HoliExplosionBombay/Mumbai, ©GiselleNatassia/
  10. 10. • Framing – Fill your frame, do not waste space. Look for natural frames as well; you can crop if necessary! Fly By; near Arctic Bay © Michelle Valberg
  11. 11. • In the following photographs, discuss which rules of composition apply to the picture. Feel free to give any critiques as well.• Photos from the same source.
  12. 12. Sun-Kissed Faces; Cebu, the Philippines © Erwin Choachuy
  13. 13. Maiko; Kyoto, Japan © Seiya Bowen
  14. 14. Leading Lines; Sarawak, Malaysia © Sharkawi Che Din
  15. 15. Sunset over Bruges; Belgium © Calvin Lee
  16. 16. Blizka; The Buzludzha Monument, Bulgaria © Thomas
  17. 17. Dragon Wave; Ke’e beach, Kauai, Hawaii © Lace Andersen
  18. 18. Nomad woman milking a yak; Sichuan, China © JohnQuintero