A Crafty Visual Exercise to Boost Your Composition Skills

Composition and composition techniques always top the charts whenever we talk about getting started with photography. You could call composition the foundation of photography; most things in photography revolve around it. This is why we find lots of resources on tips, techniques and styles of composition when starting to learn photography. In the process, the methods you’ll learn will vary from person to person. But in today’s video, photographer Ted Forbes has a different approach to this topic. He takes you through a visual exercise that he learned in college that will help you better understand composition in photography:

Forbes shares this interesting approach, whereby you don’t even need to be holding your camera while learning to compose. Instead, you’ll just need some papers and a pair of scissors. In this technique, he uses one sheet of paper as the background, which he calls ground. Then, he uses other bits of papers cut in different shapes as the elements of composition, which he calls figures. The idea is then to move the figures around the ground, placing the figures in positions relative to each other to get as many possible composition variations as possible.

This exercise can help you come up with compositions both simple and complex. It also trains your eyes to make connections and establish relationships among subjects. Remember, composition is about understanding where your subject is in relation to other objects in your frame, then figuring out if you can change your angle and perspective to come up with something better. And unlike other genres of art, you need to be subtractive in photography. This means, when composing your shots, always eliminate distractions and unnecessary elements to come up with a concise result.

How do you feel about this composition exercise?

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