Photo Composition

Photo Composition Basics: 21 Ways for Capturing Stunning Photos

Anupam Tiwari
By Anupam Tiwari | June 3, 2024 1:11 pm

Have you ever wondered why some photos capture your eye instantly, while others leave you feeling flat? The secret might lie in photo composition, arranging elements within the frame to create visually appealing composition images. Mastering photography composition rules and techniques is essential for elevating your photos from basic snapshots to the remarkable works of a professional photographer. 

But don't worry, you don't need years of experience to get started. This guide will break down the fundamental principles of photo composition in a clear and easy-to-understand way. Plus, with the rise of AI design tools, you can now edit and improve your picture quality, or even design a professional-looking photography portfolio in minutes. So, get ready to take your photography skills to the next level!

What is Photo Composition?

Photo composition, an essential aspect of photography, refers to arranging visual elements within a frame to create an aesthetic and balanced image. It is the process of selecting and organizing the components of a photograph to convey a particular message or emotion. Photography composition considers lighting, color, lines, shapes, texture, and negative space (white space) to guide the viewer's eye through the image and enhance the overall visual impact.

Photography composition for beginners involves understanding and practicing photo composition and following several photo composition examples initially. The photography composition techniques include using the rule of thirds, leading lines, symmetry and patterns, depth, and perspective. These techniques help create dynamic and interesting compositions that engage the viewer and convey a sense of balance and harmony within the frame. Moreover, Appy Pie's AI Photo Enhancer is a valuable tool for beginners and experienced photographers. It offers a range of features and effects to enhance your images. With its intuitive interface, you can easily experiment with different techniques, adjust lighting and colors, and even apply creative filters to transform your photos.

21 Photo Composition Techniques for Beginners

The magic ingredient to transform your photos from ordinary to extraordinary is achieving the perfect picture composition. Let us now discuss the different types of composition in photography in detail with examples you'll learn to guide the viewer's eye, create depth and interest, and tell a captivating story with every click. Ready to unlock the secrets of captivating photography? Let's dive into 21 essential picture composition techniques you can start using today!

  1. Apply the Rule of Thirds
  2. The Rule of Thirds is a composition guideline that suggests placing your subject along the lines or at the intersections of a grid that divides your image into thirds, vertically and horizontally. This creates a more dynamic and interesting composition compared to simply centering the subject. For example, when photographing a landscape, you can place the horizon along the top or bottom third line, and position key elements, such as trees or buildings, at the intersection points. However, it might be difficult to achieve this perfection initially for any beginner. Thus, you can use our AI Photo Editor to fix the areas that you feel are not aligned perfectly easily and efficiently within no time.

  3. Utilize Leading Lines
  4. Leading lines are elements in a scene that draw the viewer's eye towards the subject or through the image. These can be straight or curved lines, formed by objects such as roads, rivers, fences, or even the edges of buildings. Leading lines create a sense of depth and perspective, guiding the viewer's attention to the intended focal point. For instance, a winding pathway leading towards a distant figure in a landscape photo can add a sense of narrative and draw the viewer into the scene.

  5. Use Negative Space Wisely
  6. Negative space is the area surrounding the subject of a photograph, often devoid of any distracting elements. It simplifies the composition and emphasizes the subject by providing breathing room. Using negative space effectively can create a sense of minimalism and elegance. For example, a close-up portrait with a plain background free of clutter showcases the subject and draws focus to their expressions and emotions. Such shots are the perfect pieces to be displayed on a photography flyer. You can use our Photography Flyer Maker to display such masterpieces on a flyer. It streamlines the design process and helps you create a remarkable display of your work.

  7. Fill the Frame
  8. Filling the frame involves getting closer to your subject or using a longer focal length to make the subject appear larger in the frame. This technique emphasizes the details and creates a more intimate connection with the viewer. It also eliminates unnecessary distractions from the background. For instance, when photographing a flower, filling the frame with its petals and stamens showcases its delicate beauty and intricate textures.

  9. Fill the Frame
  10. Viewpoint, or perspective, refers to the position from which you shoot your photograph. Changing your viewpoint can drastically alter the story your image conveys. It can make the subject appear powerful or diminutive, depending on whether you shoot from a low or high angle, respectively. For example, photographing a child at their eye level gives a more personal and engaging perspective compared to shooting from an adult's height. 

    The perspective in your photograph can make you a photographer who stands out from the crowd and upgrades your portfolio. You can even try our AI Portfolio Maker to creatively design your portfolio using the numerous customizable templates this tool offers easily.

  11. Explore Symmetry & Balance
  12. Symmetry and balance in photography create a sense of harmony and stability in an image. This can be achieved through reflective symmetry, radial symmetry, or simply by balancing the visual weight of elements within the frame. For instance, when photographing architecture, capturing the symmetrical facade of a building can create a sense of order and balance in your composition.

  13. Incorporate the Rule of Odds
  14. The Rule of Odds suggests that compositions are more appealing when they include an odd number of subjects, rather than an even number. This creates a sense of asymmetry and visual tension in the image. For example, when photographing a group of birds on a wire, framing the shot to include three or five birds, instead of two or four, can make the image more interesting and engaging.

    Suggested read: Looking for unique ideas? Learn about asymmetrical balance in art and try incorporating it into your photo composition.

  15. Manipulate Depth of Field
  16. Depth of field refers to the zone of sharp focus in a photograph. By adjusting your aperture and other camera settings, you can control whether everything from the foreground to the background is in focus (large depth of field), or create a shallow depth of field where only your subject is sharp and the background is blurred. For instance, a portrait with a shallow depth of field can blur the background, drawing all attention to the subject's face. You can even do it manually after clicking the photo using our AI Blur Background tool with just a couple of clicks.

  17. Seek out Patterns
  18. Patterns in photography create visual interest and often a sense of rhythm or repetition. They can be found in both natural and man-made environments, from the repetitive patterns of a honeycomb to the rows of seats in an empty stadium. Capturing patterns can result in intriguing abstract compositions or emphasize the beauty in everyday scenes.

  19. Frame with Foreground & Background
  20. Framing involves using elements in the foreground or background to create a frame within your image, drawing attention to the main subject. This can be achieved by incorporating natural frames, such as arches, doorways, or tree branches, that enclose or highlight the subject, adding depth and context to your composition. Moreover, you can even highlight your photography prowess using a flyer showcasing your skills and monetizing your work. You may try our photography flyer templates to create attractive flyer designs.

    • photography flyer templates
    • photography flyer templates
    • photography flyer templates
    • photography flyer templates

  21. Be Mindful of the Purpose of Your Shoot
  22. Always start by understanding why you are taking the photographs. The purpose of your shoot could vary from capturing a special event, creating art, documenting a process, or simply experimenting with photography. Knowing the purpose will guide your creative decisions and help you convey the intended message or story through your images.

    Let's say you are a fashion photographer hired to showcase the latest clothing collection for a brand. Being mindful of your purpose would mean focusing on highlighting the garments, and capturing the mood and aesthetics of the brand. Moreover, you can include such creative shots in a photography brochure to highlight your skills and better present your portfolio. You can use our Photography Brochure Maker to create a flawless brochure design that perfectly presents your arctic shots within just a couple of clicks.

  23. Explore Color Theory
  24. Color theory is essential in photography as it deals with the impact and psychology of colors. Understanding complementary, analogous, and triadic color schemes, as well as warm and cool colors, can help you create visually pleasing and harmonious compositions.

    A landscape photographer might wait for the golden hour, just before sunset, to capture warm, soft light that bathes the scene in golden hues. This warm color palette can create a sense of calm and serenity in the viewer.

  25. Play with Contrast
  26. Contrast is the difference in tone, color, or light between the subject and its surroundings. Playing with contrast can make your images pop by creating a visually interesting tension within the frame. Imagine a photographer capturing a street scene on a snowy day. The photographer might frame the shot to emphasize the contrast between the bright white snow and the dark clothing of the pedestrians, creating a striking and dynamic image.

  27. Master Lighting & Shadows
  28. Lighting and shadows are fundamental to photography. Understanding how light falls on your subject, creates shadows and affects the overall mood and tone of an image is crucial. Learning to manipulate natural and artificial light sources can help you create dramatic or subtle effects. A portrait photographer might use a softbox to create a gentle, diffused light source that minimizes harsh shadows on the subject's face, resulting in a flattering and soft portrait.

  29. Create Depth (Foreground, Midground, Background)
  30. Creating depth in an image gives a sense of three-dimensional space. You can achieve this by including elements in the foreground, midground, and background of your frame. This technique adds layers to your image, making it more engaging and inviting the viewer to explore the scene. A nature photographer, when capturing a vast mountain range, might include wildflowers in the foreground, a river flowing in the midground, and towering peaks in the background, giving a sense of scale and depth to the image. 

    Moreover, you can even use such photos in a poster on World Environment Day or Earth Day to showcase your work. You can try our Photo Poster Maker to design a poster that displays your photograph strategically and grabs attention.

  31. Introduce Repetition
  32. Repetition of shapes, lines, or patterns in a photograph can create a sense of rhythm and visual harmony. It often draws the viewer's attention and creates a feeling of order or balance within the frame. A photographer might capture a row of windows on a historic building, with each window repeating a similar shape and size, creating a sense of symmetry and visual interest.

  33. Highlight Texture
  34. Texture refers to the surface quality of an object, whether smooth, rough, soft, or hard. Using light, shadows, and close-up compositions, you can highlight textures in your photographs, adding a tactile dimension to your images. This a must-follow food photography composition technique. When shooting a bowl of fresh strawberries, a photographer might use a shallow depth of field to focus on the delicate texture of the fruit's seeds, creating a visually appetizing image.

    Also read: Discover the best photo filters for food bloggers

  35. Employ the Rule of Diagonals
  36. The rule of diagonals suggests placing key elements along diagonal lines that run from one corner of the frame to another. This creates a sense of movement, tension, and depth in your images. A sports photographer might shoot a soccer player kicking the ball by positioning the player's body and the ball's path along a diagonal line, conveying a sense of action and dynamism.

  37. Incorporate S-Curves
  38. S-curves refer to compositions that incorporate smooth, curving lines that lead the viewer's eye through the image. These curves create a sense of flow and can be used to guide the viewer's attention to key elements. A photographer capturing a winding mountain road might use the S-curve of the road to lead the viewer's eye through the image, creating a sense of depth and inviting them to imagine themselves driving along the route. 

  39. Mind Headroom and Footspace
  40. Headroom and foot space refer to the space above and below the main subject in the frame. Balancing these spaces ensures that the subject isn't cramped or lost in the image and provides a comfortable viewing experience. A photographer capturing a full-body portrait of a person on a city street might ensure there is adequate headroom above the subject's head and footspace below their feet, avoiding an awkwardly cropped image.

  41. Sharpen your Cropping Skills
  42. Cropping is a powerful tool that can be used to improve composition, emphasize the subject, and create a more dynamic image. Learning to crop effectively involves understanding the rule of thirds, golden ratio, and other compositional guidelines to guide the viewer's eye to the focal point. You can achieve better perfection in cropping photos using our AI Crop Image Tool. You can easily remove undesired objects from your photos in minutes with this tool's intuitive AI technology.

    Cropping is also important when you are trying to make a photo collage for display. If you are a beginner in designing, you can use our Photo Collage Maker to create a stunning collage using pre-designed editable templates.

    Lastly, composition is a highly personal aspect of photography, and your unique style and vision will develop over time. Draw inspiration from the world around you, study the works of master photographers, and keep refining your craft. With practice, you'll develop a keen eye for composition, enabling you to create powerful and memorable images that resonate with viewers.


    Always remember that creativity and experimentation are also vital, as you continue to practice and refine your compositional skills. There are no hard and fast rules in photography, and sometimes breaking the rules can lead to unique and even better results. Always keep your eyes open for unexpected compositions and don't be afraid to try out different techniques.

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