7 Tips to Great Photography Composition

Famous photojournalist Robert Capa was once quoted as saying “if your photos aren’t good enough, you aren’t close enough.”

Capa was partly right; framing can make or break, a photograph. In this video, in less than three minutes, nature and landscape photographer John Greengo walks you through his tried and true framing rules that can elevate your work from cluttered and confusing to clean and beautiful:

Photographer John Greengo breaks good composition into seven simple rules:

1. Fill the frame

“Most amateur photographers don’t get close enough and there subject is too small in the photograph.”

Make sure the subject is obvious to the viewer.

2. Add only supporting elements

Greengo stresses that every element in the frame should matter. Try adding a single element at a time to make sure it is helping—not hurting—the subject of the photo.

3. Avoid the middle

It can be tempting, especially when shooting vertically, to put the subject directly in the middle. Greengo notes, however, that by moving the subject to the side, the composition usually improves.

4. Show only the best

It is not necessary to show everything in the frame; by leaving just the best parts, your photograph will have an “element of surprise.”

5. Simplify

Keeping the image clean and uncluttered is key to good composition.

photo framing tips

6. Solve the visual puzzle

“My goal going out there is to make sense of the visual puzzle, to find an element that makes sense and flows right.”

7. Find order in chaos

While this can be a challenge, seeing and using patterns in your photography creates more visual interest.

At first, you may need to bring a list of these framing tips with you on your shoots, but in time you’ll probably find they become second nature.

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One response to “7 Tips to Great Photography Composition”

  1. lisa Mery says:

    Great insights! I would like to add another key that is “Change the viewpoint” when our natural tendency to shoot straight on.

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