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Tips & Tricks

Photography Tips | 4 Composition Mistakes You Should Avoid

By Wendell Weithers on September 8th 2017

Every craft has a list of “do’s and don’ts” but recognizing and avoiding them successfully in the field may, at times, prove difficult. Every shooting environment presents its unique challenges, so it may be hard to overcome them in the moment. However, seeing how others identify and conquer those same challenges can equip us to better deal with them on our own.  Evan5ps is an Atlanta based photographer that has shared some tips to help you steer clear of a few compositional mistakes.

1 – Double Subject

This occurs when you place two main subjects within a single frame in a way that leaves the viewers confused as to where their focus should be. Even if your setting is beautiful and captivating, if it’s not the focus of your shot, you’ll need to deemphasize it enough to let the main subject stand out.

Two ways to do this:

1- Recompose your shot

2- Open your aperture to create separation between your subject and background

2 – Subject Looking Out of the frame

We tend to follow visual cues in real life and in the photos we encounter. One way this manifests is that we follow the eyes or gaze of the subject we see in a picture. If they are looking away and out of the frame, it draws your eyes away from the rest of the picture. However, directing your subject to gaze into the setting you capture is a useful way to draw the viewer’s eyes from the subject to something else of interest in the image.

However, directing your subject to gaze into the setting you capture is a useful way to draw the viewer’s eyes from the subject to something else of interest in the image.

3 – Tangent Lines

This means that something in the background is drawing lines through your subject; leaving anyone who views it confused about their relationship to the background.

It would be better to find a similar setting that captures the same feel but gives your subject the best chance to stand out.

4 – LAZY Composition

This one is rather simple to avoid, but for any number of reasons, fatigue or time constraints befalls us all. Whenever you walk into setting to take a picture, there is the easy picture and the picture that requires you think through the vision for the shot.

Ensuring that we always think and consider all the possible angles for the image before you shoot will help you avoid lazily composing them.

More Articles on Composition

HOW LENSES AFFECT COMPOSITION | A LOOK AT COMPRESSION & DISTORTION

LEARNING THE RULES THEN BREAKING THEM | GUIDELINES TO COMPOSITION

COMPOSITION | WHY YOU SHOULD ADD LOW ANGLES TO YOUR BAG OF TRICKS

Wendell is based in Atlanta where he shoots events, portraits, and food photography. He also supports his wife Andrea as she runs their cake design business, Sweet Details.

Instagram: Wendellwphoto

Q&A Discussions

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  1. Aditya Yadav

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  2. Ron Fya

    I get to disagree with this guy on some level.

    About the 2 subjects in the frame, with the waterfall his “corrected” picture is not much better than the first one. To make it work, a good trick is to create some sort of composition  triangle that makes the eye wander through the image and back to the start in a guided way. It’s done a lot in classical paintings to bring  interaction between all the features in the image.

    About the girl looking outside the frame, you can do that on purpose in a very powerful way. It’s done plenty in movies when the character portrayed is facing a deep loneliness or a tough moral choice , or a dead-end … or even when meeting in an intimate discussions with the antagonist. Most of the time tough, I agree it’s more relevant do make the person looking inwards the image.

    Then he doesn’t know what “tangent” means. And you surely can take great pictures of people in the woods.

    About the lazy composition, it’s 100% correct. We better get our asses moving if we want the best shots.

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