This is a tough one.

It shouldn’t be really, but for me, it’s a tough subject.


A couple of reasons, really.

For one, there seem to be rules about composition and I’m just not good at following rules.

Many of you have probably heard of the Rule of Thirds.  I totally get that and understand that for the most part that’s a great rule to follow, but on the other hand, I’m more about doing what works rather than following rules.

Secondly,  I’m just not good at it.  Come to think of it, maybe if I followed the rules, I’d become better at it.  😉

Yes, I’m admitting that.  You’d think as a professional,  I could nail it, but I really have a hard time with it.  I tend to see moments as they happen rather than planning something out for the perfect shot.

But, I’m going to tackle it with you today and fill you in on what I find myself repeating over and over again when I get stuck in trying to snap a good image.

Look up.  Look down.  Get high.  Get low.  Think dimensional.  Re-create your image just as you’re seeing it.  Actually take a few extra seconds to compose your shot.  A quick snap of the image often leaves the image feeling flat.  Allow the image to speak for itself….to tell it’s own story.

Use a wide angle, but then get close… use your minds eye to see the difference.  Which tells the story better?

I once read in a photography magazine that it’s easy to tell the difference in a pro and amateur while they’re snapping their vacation photos:  the amateur skids the car to an abrupt halt, jumps out and quickly snaps the picture of the first thing he/she sees.  BUT the more advanced beginner stops, gets out of the car and looks in all directions to see which is the best angle to take his/her picture.  Don’t just snap one picture.  Take several to see which looks best on your screen.

Do you see the difference?  Now put yourself in that situation.  Which of those tourists are you?  🙂

How can you take a picture and make it interesting?

Think about your background.  Think about your foreground?  Do you need to move your body around to include something in the image?  Do you need to move objects within your foreground or your background to make the image more appealing?  Do the objects in the foreground or background add to or distract from your subject?

Another thing to think about is framing.   Anytime you can frame your subject with your picture draws attention directly to your subject.  Look outside the box here; you can use anything to frame your subject and make an interesting picture.  I’ve seen spokes of a bicycle wheel used to frame a subject and think, “man, why didn’t I think about that?!”  That’s how I’m talking about thinking outside the box.

While I understand this lesson is not so chock full of technical instruction, it’s still essential in distinguishing yourself from the complete novice and the proficient photographer.  Think about this lesson you next time you take a picture of a baby or young toddler and you’re tempted to take the picture from your level….kneel down and get on their level so you won’t have a box full of pictures of the tops of baby’s heads.  😉

Practice these tips and I bet you’ll immediately start noticing an improvement in your pictures and others will, too.

And sadly, our time together via these lessons is coming to a close.  Next week I’ll cover my last subject–not so much a buying guide–but a comparison of the lenses I use and what each does best with some extras thrown in.

It’s been 12 weeks and I can’t believe we covered so much stuff!

I hope you have enjoyed learning and feel more confident in your ability!

Feel free to ask questions in the comments section and I’ll try to answer as blog posts.

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