Two of my last three blog posts were about photography, specifically lighting. Today I’m going to talk a little bit about composition. No, not every blog post will be about photography. I do love geeking out on all things involving a camera, but there are other things to talk about, and talk about them we will.
However, today let me share with you a few simple tips on how to improve your everyday photos with composition.
Simply put, composition is the placement of objects and elements in a work of art. So how you decide to compose your photo can mean the difference between a throwaway snapshot and a beautiful portrait. There are a lot of tips out there when it comes to composition. Today I’m going to share five simple ones.
Who or what is your subject? What do you want your viewer focused on? One of the best ways to take the guesswork out of this is to get closer to your subject. Let her fill up your frame. I often tell myself to get close enough to feel like I’m too close. Then get a little closer. Leave no room for question. Let your subject take over.
It is often the case when people are in photographs together that they are uncomfortable with getting too close. But the closer they are, the sweeter the image. So tell them what I just told you. Get them close enough to feel like they are too close. Them get them closer. Have them hug. Get them cheek to cheek. Having them feel this close will sometimes even get them laughing over it, which just adds to a nicely composed portrait. So get them closer.
Another great way to compose you portrait is with plenty of negative space. Negative space is the area which surrounds your subject (your subject being the positive space). While filling your frame with your subject is one way to compose, allowing for negative space is another way. Having both positive and negative space in your image creates a nice balance. And if the negative space is truly that (empty), you evoke stronger contrast between it and your subject. This is one time where bringing in some negativity is a good thing.
Rarely would I advise you to stoop down to your children’s level, but this is one of those times when it’s a great idea. I’m speaking literally here. Get down on the ground. Squat down or sit down with them. Get eye to eye and go into their world. Rather than getting a photo from your perspective, you’ll be suddenly getting a portrait from their perspective. And perspective can be a game changer.
This one might apply to life in general with kids. Don’t fake it. Be real with them. If you want them to smile, don’t tell them to say cheese. Do something to make them smile. Often enough, all that takes is a simple smile yourself. Make them laugh by being funny, or by laughing for them. Laughter, as we all know, is contagious! Get thoughtful expressions by asking them questions that make them stop and think. Engage with them, whoever they are. The more you engage with your subject, the more genuine you are with them, the more genuine the expressions you’ll evoke from them. Perhaps this is a rule for composing life. Be real.