Limited Edition Photography
Texas based landscape photographer

Blog-weddings

Composition in your pictures

When you hear a great song, you automatically know it's great. You may not know how to write a song, but you can definitely recognize that it's awesome. The same goes with pictures. You can love a picture with all your heart and not necessarily know what makes it a great picture.

One thing that makes a great picture is good composition!

When I review a Photographers portfolio, the first thing I look for is how they compose their images. If a Photographer can natural compose an image the right way, they are way ahead of the competition! The dictionary has it's own definition, but I've always seen composition as what makes an image pleasant and allows it to tell a story. 

Here's an example from a recent wedding. The Bride and Groom were having their first dance and I noticed the Mom getting emotional, so I focused on her to capture the reaction she had to her daughter dancing with her new husband. Does this shot work? Unfortunately it does not, because no one would ever know that 1. this is the Brides Mom and 2. who is she looking at? It's a good picture with some obvious emotion in it, but it doesn't tell a story at all.

The Mom looking at someone

The Mom looking at someone

Here's the exact same image, but with the original capture. Now this picture tells a story! You can easily tell it's a wedding and someone important is in the background getting emotional. Without the Bride and Groom, the picture doesn't work. The Photographer has to compose them into the image. It's not easy, because they're dancing and spinning, but you have to make the effort if you want to tell a story with your image.

Mom getting emotional while bride dances with husband

Mom getting emotional while bride dances with husband

Here's another image from an engagement session a couple weeks ago. This first image I'm showing you is another example of composition that could be improved upon ;) This is one of those pictures that, when you look at it, you know somethings wrong, but you don't know just what it is. It's uncomfortable and it's a little too busy. You get the point of what I'm trying to show, which is the date, but his head is cropped off and there's a lot of wood lying around. It's not bad composition, but it could be better!

bad composition

bad composition

The previous shot was decent, but what it needed to be a good shot was a little breathing room. The image below is a lot more relaxing to look at. Sometimes, giving a little head room and cropping in all the wood at the bottom makes all the difference. It's now a beautiful picture at sunset with them kissing in the background. I'm always looking for clean breaks in my pictures. If the piece of wood on the bottom left would have been longer, I probably would have gone wider, or gotten further away and zoomed in more.

good composition

good composition

I feel like composition is a gut feeling more than anything. It's also the reason I love my zoom lenses vs primes because I can compose so much faster while staying in one place. 

When you're out on your next shoot and something doesn't feel right with the image you are about to take, look at the composition first and ask yourself, what can you do to make this image tell a better story or how can you give it some breathing room so it feels more relaxing to look at.

As always, I appreciate you reading my blog. I hope you're getting something out of it. If we're all growing, then we are all pushing the limits of what is possible in our craft. Let's all get better together :)

Please share this if you feel others can benefit from it.

Joe Hendricks