9 Essential Composition Rules for New Photographers

Rules are meant to be broken, and that definitely applies to photography. It’s all about being yourself and showing your own personal style through imagery. But, you have to know the rules first before you can break them. And, in the case of composition, there are some rules that should be followed—at least sometimes. Here, COOPH explains nine essential tips for great composition using the work of world-renowned and influential photographer, Steve McCurry:

1. Rule of Thirds

Place points of interest on intersections or important elements along the lines.

how to use the rule of thirds

 2. Leading Lines

Use natural lines to lead the viewer’s eye into the picture.

3. Diagonals

Use diagonal lines to create movement.

use diagonals in photography

 4. Framing

Use natural frames like windows and doors.

5. Figure to Ground

Find a contrast between subject and background.

look for contrast in images

 6. Fill the Frame

Get close to your subjects.

7. Center the Dominant Eye

Placing the dominant eye in the center of the photo will give the impression that the eyes follow you.

make eyes follow you in a photo

 8. Patterns & Repetition

Patterns are aesthetically pleasing, but are best when interrupted.

break the pattern in photos

9. Symmetry

Symmetry is also pleasing to the eye.

how to use symmetry in photography

For the rushed readers out there, that’s a quick list of the nine essential composition rules, but I highly suggest coming back to watch this video just for the incredible photography work that’s featured. McCurry really is an inspiration.

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