Composition tips

One of the joys of photography is seeing people looking at and enjoying a great image.  Their eyes light up and then they say… “WoW, that’s beautiful”. 

But how do you make sure that people get that same ‘wow’ experience when looking at your shots? 

In this article, we’ll be looking at a few handy hints and tips that will help you improve your composition. 

Watch Your Background

When it comes to composition, the background of your photo is just as important as the foreground. A good background can add depth to your photo, help the viewer’s eye concentrate on the main subject and improve the whole image. It’s important to make sure that your background has no distracting objects or over bright areas that will make your subject get lost.  

How can you fix this? Plan your shoots in advance if you can. The best time of day to shoot is in the hour after sunrise and the hour before sunset. This is known as the ‘golden hour’. The low sun gives a beautiful, soft light as opposed to the harsh glare and shadows of a midday sun. 

Use lights and shadows


The effective use of light is one of photography’s core principles. Use shadows to show depth, to add a different feel to an image, or to add contrast. Light will illuminate your subject and draw the eye to exactly where you want it to go.  There are even special techniques called Rembrandt lighting and low key photography for this purpose.

Shadows can be used creatively, and are very effective when used in a black and white image. Use shadows to convey mystery or a sense of the unknown. If you are photographing a person, it’s very effective and dramatic to have half of their face in shadow. 

Change Your Perspective

Rather than stand in front of your subject and snap a quick shot, look at different angles. Walk from one side to the other for a different viewpoint, or get up high in an adjacent balcony or down low at the ground for a low angle shot to change the perspective and create a more diverse picture. 

Tell a story 

Local events, festivals, and parades are great but what if there’s nothing going on while you’re there? One of the most obvious decisions is to photograph people. Try to tell a story with your images. If someone interests you, try to add them to your image.


Cropping is a powerful tool for aiding composition. It can help you to create a frame that will draw the viewer’s attention to the subject of your photo.  The simplest way to get a close crop is to move closer to your subject. If you have a quality zoom lens, you can change your focal length, but if you are using a camera phone, never zoom as it destroys the image quality.  

If getting closer to your subject isn’t possible, you can crop your image to look better in picture editing software.


All of the big ‘photography rules’ can be used as a guideline. It’s worth learning about them so you understand how they can help you create better images, but you don’t have to stick rigidly to them. It costs nothing to experiment so start today!