Struggling to understand/practice composition

Started 2 months ago | Discussions thread
LordKOTL Senior Member • Posts: 1,545
Re: Storytelling

A lot of posters have touched on the storytelling concept of composition, and in my opinion that's at the core of it.

What helps me being a much more technically minded person is the similar concept of "what effect are you driving at?".

If you're taking a photo of your cat (as an example), you want it to be more than simply a photo of your cat--i.e. a snapshot in time of your cat and what they were doing at the time.  Try to think more in terms of how do you want you cat to look.  Do you want them to look cuddly?  Do you want them to look regal?  Do you want them to look fierce? Do you want them to look tiny?  Once you've settled on that, the goal of composition is to try to get all of the elements of the scene to add to that effect, and remove anything that doesn't.  That's storytelling.

The same concept applies to other photographic situations.  Again, for example:  you're shooting a landscape.  What do you want to emphasize about the landscape--what are you driving at?  Is it the sky above?  Is it whatever's in the distance?  Is is emphasizing the expanse between the foreground and the background?  Is it how the terrain is dynamic, or maybe how it's very flat?  Once you know that, then you compose the scene so the elements of the scene add to that effect and you try to remove everything that detracts from that effect.

I believe you mentioned earlier about playing around with cropping.  If you can do it non-destructively that would be a good idea to see what works and what doesn't for a given photo.  But, you should go a little beyond that.  Ask yourself why a specific crop works for a specific photo vs. the original framing.  What is different between the two?  Then, you should apply that knowledge to your future shots so that you can do a lot of that composition in the camera itself (which I know sometimes it's possible--especially if you want to change the aspect ration and have to crop in post).

Anyhow, I hope this helped a bit.  Good luck and happy shooting!

-- hide signature --

There's no shame in using auto or semiauto modes--no matter what the salesdroids at Best Buy tell you.

 LordKOTL's gear list:LordKOTL's gear list
Nikon D750 Nikon AF Nikkor 50mm f/1.8D Nikon AF-S Micro-Nikkor 105mm F2.8G IF-ED VR Nikon 85mm F1.8G Nikon AF-S Nikkor 20mm f/1.8G ED +3 more
Post (hide subjects) Posted by
Keyboard shortcuts:
FForum PPrevious NNext WNext unread UUpvote SSubscribe RReply QQuote BBookmark MMy threads
Color scheme? Blue / Yellow