Get basic photo composition tips
Make each photo more unique by properly framing your subject, choosing the right backgrounds, and more
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Before you take that photo, stop to consider your composition—in other words, the way you’ve “framed” the photo. A few simple adjustments can make the difference between a casual “snapshot” and a truly moving photograph. Whether you’re producing fine art or preserving everyday moments, these tips will improve every photo you take.
Position your subject
Photographing the woman slightly off-center creates a more interesting photo.
The perfect way to make photos more interesting is to use the rule of thirds:
- Pretend your camera frame is divided into three sections, from top to bottom and from side to side (like a tic-tac-toe game).
- If you position your subject away from the middle of the frame, the result will be a more artful and compelling photo.
Get closer to your subject
Getting closer allows you to capture the details and expressions of your subject.
The simplest technique for getting better photos: Get closer to your subject.
- Before you take the shot, ask yourself, “Can I get closer?” If the answer is yes, then you should.
- Fill your camera’s frame with your subject; this adds intimacy and power to your photos, drawing the viewer in even more.
Crop your photo
Cropping the legs from this photo instantly transforms it from a snapshot to a frameable portrait.
You won’t always get that perfect shot to begin with. Keeping the rule of thirds in mind, try cropping your photo after you’ve shot it, either in your camera or with photo-editing software.
- Cropping ensures that your photo has a clear focal point to draw in a viewer’s eye.
- Cropping is an easy way to fix photos where the main subject is overshadowed by distracting elements and background “noise.”
Choose better photo backgrounds
An intricate background works well for subjects with simple or no patterns.
Be sure the background of your photo doesn’t interfere with your subject and take attention away from the focal points.
- Avoid distracting elements in the background, such as bystanders or a multi-colored wall or background.
- Find a solid-color background. When photographing people indoors, look for a background like a solid-color wall. When outdoors, an expanse of blue sky or even a swath of green grass can better showcase your subject.
- Notice patterns. While simple backgrounds are best for subjects with busy patterns, conversely, simple patterns look best set against a detailed background.
Pick the proper orientation
While both images showcase the reflection, the horizontal one also captures the river’s beautiful surroundings.
Your camera produces a rectangular image. This gives you two distinct orientations to work with—vertical or horizontal.
- Often, your subject will lend itself to one orientation or the other. For example, a horizontal orientation is not ideal for tall objects. On the other hand, vertical orientation might not lend itself best to a wide shot.
- Sometimes it’s not so obvious which orientation to choose. One sure way to know is simply to take your photo both ways and decide which looks best.
Use point of view
Instead of a traditional, head-on portrait, try an over-the-shoulder shot.
Break from the habit of shooting everything from eye level.
- Experiment with high- and low-angle shots that show both scale and perspective. You can kneel down to capture subjects near the ground or photograph subjects above you.
- Consider creating a photo display in your home that shows one subject from several different angles.
Frame your subject
An archway serves as a great natural frame for the subject—the building.
Framing is what draws the viewer’s eye to the main subject. Creative ways to frame your subject are everywhere!
- Take advantage of naturally occurring “frames”—or physical structures and patterns, like a footpath or a fence.
- Overhanging tree branches, a doorway, or an arch can give a picture the depth it needs to make it more than just another snapshot.
- Don’t forget, you can also use the foreground elements to frame your subject.
Experiment with abstract photography
A close-up of beach pebbles is pleasantly punctuated by a seed pod’s shot of color.
A fun way to learn more about basic photo composition is to zoom in on abstract details. The purpose is to make a work of art rather than show the object in a realistic way.
- Focus on texture, perspective, and color.
- Fill your frame with a fantastic pattern (like ripples in a pond, or the checkerboard of a modern glass building).
- Abstract images are an ideal opportunity to experiment with black-and-white photography.
Fix pictures with photo editing
So you have a photo you like … if it weren’t for those glowing red-eyes.
Learn how to reveal the true potential of any photo through photo editing. It’s easy to improve your photo using photo-editing software or the editing tools built-in to some HP Photosmart printers. Watch a demo to see how it works.