Composing a Picture

"Make the most of your shot; do not rely on software."

Portrait CompositionComposing a picture takes a little preparation. Even when photographing friends and family, you should never overlook the composition of the image. Patterns formed by shapes and lines, the balance of light and dark, and colors within the frame can set a definite mood for the picture. They also give the eye something to land and focus on and possibly move along if you are trying to tie together two subjects.

Off Center

While the focal point in the picture should be the person, it does not need to be at the center of the shot. Try splitting the viewfinder into three equal areas horizontally or vertically. Place the eyes of your subject in the middle of one of the lines and have something else on the other line to pull in symmetry. The other object can be anything: a branch, the corner of a hallway, a picture, or a bookshelf. It just depends on the mood and theme that you want to set.


Center focal points can still turn out great, but the idea is to keep symmetry. Having the subject enclosed in a shape such as a window or one of those play land openings keeps this pretty simple. Otherwise, look for a symmetrical background to place your subject in.

Patterns and Lines

When there is more than one subject nothing says that they have to be side by side. Try to find a way to elevate one above the other and use natural lines or patterns in the surroundings to link them together.

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