8 IMPORTANT Composition Tips for Better Photos

Jamie Windsor
25 Apr 202411:51

TLDRIn this insightful video, the presenter addresses the complexity of photographic composition, offering eight practical tips to enhance viewers' photography skills. The tips range from finding the right position and using a phone for composition practice to being cautious with the rule of thirds and keeping the composition simple. The presenter also emphasizes the importance of considering the conceptual and emotional aspects of a shot, watching the edges of the frame, and not being afraid to edit in post-production. The key message is that while composition rules are useful, they should be applied thoughtfully and intuitively, with practice being the ultimate teacher.


  • 📸 **Get Your Position Right**: The position of the subject and the photographer significantly impacts the shot's feel, meaning, and story.
  • 🔄 **Change Your Perspective**: Don't default to eye level; try different angles for a more interesting shot.
  • 📱 **Use Your Phone for Composition**: It can help visualize a 3D scene in 2D and understand how colors translate into tones.
  • 🚫 **Beware the Rule of Thirds**: It's a starting point, but it doesn't guarantee a balanced composition; consider the entire frame.
  • 👀 **Abstract Vision**: Squint or blur your eyes to focus on abstract color, shape, and form, which aids in composition.
  • 💭 **Conceptual and Athletic Thinking**: Consider the narrative and emotional impact of your shot; the angle and framing can alter representation.
  • 📉 **Keep It Simple**: Avoid irrelevant details; everything in the frame should contribute to the story.
  • 👁 **Watch the Edges**: Be mindful of the frame's borders to prevent distracting elements from drawing the viewer's eye away.
  • ✂️ **Work in Post**: Don't be afraid to crop, re-level, or edit in post-production for the perfect composition.
  • 🤔 **Consider Your Intent**: Before deciding how to compose your shot, think about the message and feeling you want to convey.
  • 🧠 **Learn and Practice**: Gradually absorb compositional rules through learning and practice; they will become part of your intuitive understanding.

Q & A

  • What is the most fundamental aspect of improving a photograph according to the transcript?

    -The most fundamental aspect of improving a photograph is composition, which is key to a great photo.

  • What does the transcript suggest about the complexity of compositional rules?

    -The transcript suggests that compositional rules can be complex and overwhelming, with many different techniques and concepts to learn, such as the rule of thirds, golden spiral, Phi Grid, and dynamic symmetry.

  • What is the first tip given in the transcript for improving composition?

    -The first tip is to get your position right, which involves considering the position of the subject and the photographer, and not defaulting to shooting at eye level.

  • How can using a phone help with composing a photograph?

    -Using a phone can help with composing a photograph by allowing you to visualize the scene in 2D, see how colors translate into tone, and understand how the image would look with different exposure settings.

  • What is the transcript's stance on the rule of thirds?

    -The transcript suggests being cautious with the rule of thirds, as it is a useful starting point but does not guarantee a balanced composition. It emphasizes considering the entire shot, including tone, color, and contrast.

  • What does the transcript recommend when considering the position of subjects in a photograph?

    -The transcript recommends evaluating everything in the frame, ensuring elements are where you want them to be, and making adjustments such as changing position or angle to achieve the desired composition.

  • Why is it important to consider the concept and emotion you want to convey in a photograph?

    -It is important to consider the concept and emotion because the way you compose an image will tell part of the story, influencing how the viewer interprets and feels about the subject.

  • What is the advice given for dealing with distracting elements in the frame?

    -The advice is to keep it simple by including only relevant details in the frame and looking for simplified backgrounds. If necessary, use post-production tools to remove or adjust distracting elements.

  • How can squinting or blurring your eyes help with composition?

    -Squinting or blurring your eyes can help you see abstract color, shape, and form, which can guide you in setting up a nicely balanced shot.

  • What is the final tip provided in the transcript for improving composition?

    -The final tip is to work in post-production to achieve the perfect composition, using tools like cropping, re-leveling, and removing distracting elements.

  • Why is it suggested to take multiple shots from different positions?

    -Taking multiple shots from different positions can help find the position where all elements in the shot work together to create the desired feeling and tell the intended story.

  • How can practicing compositional rules help a photographer over time?

    -Practicing compositional rules helps a photographer to eventually absorb them and make them a natural part of their intuitive visual understanding, leading to improved compositional skills.



📸 Understanding Composition in Photography

This paragraph discusses the importance of composition in photography and the overwhelming number of rules and techniques one can learn. It touches on the rule of thirds, golden spiral, Phi Grid, leading lines, arabesques, dynamic symmetry, baroque diagonal, sinister diagonal, and reciprocal lines. The speaker then suggests looking at inspiring photos and examining the work of respected photographers to see how these rules are applied. The paragraph concludes with the idea that composition is complex and offers eight simple tips to improve composition, starting with getting the photographer's position right.


📏 The Rule of Thirds and Beyond

The second paragraph cautions against relying solely on the rule of thirds for composition, emphasizing the need to consider the entire image for balance. It discusses the impact of tone, color, and contrast on the perceived weight of an image and how they contribute to the overall feel. The paragraph advises looking at areas of contrast and considering the emotional detachment or dominance that different shooting angles can convey. It also encourages thinking about the message and feeling intended for the audience before deciding on the composition technique. The advice to keep it simple and consider what the viewer should focus on is given, along with the suggestion to use post-production for fine-tuning composition.


🖌️ Post-Production for Perfect Composition

The final paragraph focuses on the role of post-production in achieving the perfect composition. It suggests that while it's better to get the composition right in-camera, there are many options available in post-production for adjustments. The paragraph encourages not missing the moment for the sake of perfect composition and becoming better at judging composition in-camera through post-cropping practice. It also recommends experimenting with different views of the image, such as mirroring or inverting, to check for balance. The advice to use Photoshop tools to remove or adjust distracting elements is given, with a note on the importance of practice and learning compositional rules to improve intuitive visual understanding.




Composition refers to the arrangement of visual elements within a frame to create a pleasing and meaningful image. In the video, it is the central theme as it discusses various techniques and considerations for improving the composition of photographs. Composition is crucial because it guides the viewer's eye and can enhance the storytelling aspect of a photograph.

💡Rule of Thirds

The Rule of Thirds is a fundamental principle in photography where an image is imagined as divided into nine equal parts by two equally spaced horizontal lines and two equally spaced vertical lines. The theory suggests that if you place the most important elements along these lines or at the intersections, your photo will be more balanced and interesting. However, the video also warns against over-reliance on this rule, emphasizing the importance of considering the entire frame and the feeling it conveys.

💡Golden Spiral

The Golden Spiral, also known as the Fibonacci spiral, is a compositional tool derived from the Fibonacci sequence. It is a spiral that grows outward by a factor of the golden ratio, which is approximately 1.618. In photography, it can be used to create a natural frame within the frame, leading the viewer's eye through the image. The video mentions it as one of the complex compositional tools that can be overwhelming for beginners.

💡Leading Lines

Leading lines are a compositional technique where lines within the image guide the viewer's eye towards the main subject. They can be natural or man-made and are used to create a sense of depth and direction. The video discusses how leading lines can be simple or more complex, like arabesques, and how they contribute to dynamic symmetry within a photograph.

💡Dynamic Symmetry

Dynamic symmetry is a compositional technique that involves arranging visual elements in a balanced and harmonious way. It often involves using grids or overlays to position elements in relation to each other. The video shows an example of a photograph by Annie Leibovitz that seems to use dynamic symmetry grids, indicating its use in creating a balanced and visually appealing composition.

💡Baroque Diagonal

A Baroque diagonal is a compositional concept that refers to the use of diagonal lines in artwork to create a sense of movement and tension. In the context of the video, it is mentioned as one of the many complex compositional techniques that can be used to add depth and interest to a photograph. However, the video also suggests that these techniques should be used thoughtfully and not just because they are known to the photographer.

💡Reciprocal Lines

Reciprocal lines in photography are lines that cross each other, creating a dynamic interplay that can lead the viewer's eye around the image. The video briefly mentions this concept as part of the more complex compositional tools, suggesting that while they can add to the visual interest of a photograph, understanding and applying them effectively requires practice and intuition.

💡Aspect Ratio

Aspect ratio refers to the proportional relationship between the width and the height of an image. The video discusses two common aspect ratios: portrait, which is taller and draws attention to foreground objects, and landscape, which is wider and more natural to the way we view the world. Choosing the right aspect ratio is part of the composition process and can significantly impact the feel and message of a photograph.

💡Squint or Blur Technique

The squint or blur technique is a method where a photographer slightly blurs or squints their eyes to see the scene in a more abstract way, focusing on color, shape, and form rather than specific details. This technique, as mentioned in the video, helps in identifying the areas of contrast and saturation that contribute to a balanced composition.

💡Conceptual and Athletic Thinking

Conceptual thinking involves considering the message and emotion you want to convey with your photograph, while athletic thinking refers to the physical act of composing the shot, such as choosing the right angle or position. The video emphasizes the importance of both types of thinking in creating a photograph that not only looks good but also tells a story and evokes a desired response from the viewer.


Post-production in photography involves editing and adjusting the image after it has been taken. This can include cropping, leveling, and removing unwanted elements. The video encourages photographers not to be afraid of post-production as a tool for refining composition, suggesting that it can help achieve a more balanced and impactful image, even if it means making significant changes to the original shot.


Composition is key to a great photo, but it can be complex and confusing with many rules to learn.

The rule of thirds is a simple starting point for composition, but it doesn't guarantee a balanced photo.

Golden spiral, Phi Grid, and Fibonacci sequence are advanced compositional tools that can be challenging to use.

Leading lines, arabesques, and dynamic symmetry are techniques that can add depth to a composition.

Examining the work of respected photographers and contemporary journals can help understand how compositional rules apply.

Photos that inspire you can often break traditional compositional rules, showing that they are not always necessary for a great image.

Getting your position right is crucial; changing the position of the subject or photographer can change the shot's feel and meaning.

Avoid shooting at eye level by default as it may not always be the most interesting angle.

Use your phone as a tool to help visualize and compose images, especially when transitioning from 3D to 2D.

Beware of the rule of thirds leading to unbalanced images with too much empty space.

Consider the weight of tone, color, and contrast in balancing your shot, not just the mathematical placement of elements.

When setting up a shot, squint or blur your eyes to see abstract color, shape, and form which can guide a balanced composition.

Think conceptually about what you want your viewers to think and feel, and how the composition will tell the story.

Keep it simple by including only relevant details in the frame and avoiding irrelevant clutter.

Pay attention to the edges of your frame to avoid distracting elements and maintain focus on the subject.

Don't be afraid to work in post-production to achieve perfect composition, using tools like cropping and Photoshop to refine your image.

Practice is key; learn and absorb compositional rules over time to develop an intuitive visual understanding.