How to plan photo composition

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How to plan photo composition
With a good camera and some knowledge of light settings, you can take good photos. (Jupiterimages/ Images)

With a good camera and some knowledge of light settings, you can take good photos. You can make those good photos look like professional photos if you plan good photo composition. You won't always have a lot of time to think about what should be in the frame of a photo. It's important to learn some basics of photo composition and learn to apply them on short notice.

Skill level:


  1. 1

    Pick a subject for the photo. No matter what it is you are taking a picture of, you will need to select one thing to be the main subject. There may be several interesting things in a picture, but viewers of the picture need one object to focus on.

  2. 2

    Decide what the orientation of the picture will be. After you have a main subject you must decide if the picture should be vertical or horizontal. It's best to make this decision before you take the picture and turn the camera appropriately. This will save cropping later and make for a higher resolution final product.

  3. 3

    Watch the action in the frame. Watch for any movement and anticipate where the moving objects will be in two seconds. Then, set up and take the photo.

  4. 4

    Look for a good backdrop. When concentrating on your subject, the backdrop of a photo is often forgotten, but its a critical part of the composition. Look for a contrasting background that adds interest to the photo but allows your subject to stick out.

  5. 5

    Use the rule of two thirds. The human eye is drawn not to the center of an image, but to two thirds from the bottom, top or sides of the picture. Imagine tic-tac-toe lines creating nine equal squares over a picture. Plan the composition of the photo so the subject is at the intersection point of two lines.

Tips and warnings

  • You can crop a picture later to make it fit the rule of two thirds. However, it's best to get the original photo as close as possible because cropping reduces the resolution of the photo.

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