Pick and Choose Tips for Photography Composition

This article is based on concepts from Understanding Composition if you want to dig deeper for further training.

Everything today is about getting things done fast.

For the most part, we consider that a good thing.

However, in photography, slowing down for one second to complete this simple task will significantly improve your photos immediately!

For today’s Quick Tip, I’m going to share with you this seemingly insignificant step that many photographers tend to overlook. Still, many a Pro shooter will confirm it’s an absolute necessity.

example of not being selective with composition

Photograph #1 by Kent DuFault

Photo #1 is an excellent example of myself not practicing what I’m about to preach. (You have to love how photography is a constant learning experience!)

Here’s your Quick Tip:

When confronted with a scene that catches your eye, and you wish to photograph it, stop and practice the Pick and Choose mindset.

how to visualize photo parts of composition

Photograph #2 by Kent DuFault

When I created this picture, I saw the woman standing next to her friends, and I simply raised the camera and clicked the shutter because I found it a fascinating mix of color and texture with a human element.

If I ‘d been practicing the Pick and Choose mindset, I could’ve really improved my end result!

I would’ve:

• Evaluated what should be included in the frame.
• Decided what shouldn’t be included in the frame!
• And identify composition elements to help me tell my story.

I should’ve seen something similar to Photograph #2 in my mind!

example of better composition by cropping

Photograph #3 by Kent DuFault

The Pick and Choose mindset would’ve told me that Photograph #3 was a better picture than the one that I actually created.

rule of thirds outlined on photo

Photograph #4 by Kent DuFault

As digital photographers, we do have the luxury of ‘fixing’ some things in post-production.

However, there’s always a trade-off. Look at how much of my image area I’ve lost when cropping to fix my picture!

Taking a couple of seconds to “Pick and Choose” my frame elements could’ve saved the day.

When raising your camera to click the shutter, think Pick and Choose.

  • Scan the entire frame within your viewfinder.
  • Can your composition be tighter to the subject?
  • Have you truly identified your subject?
  • Do you have unwanted elements that you could exclude from the frame?
  • Could a change in camera position eliminate distracting background elements?
  • Is your subject located in the best position within the space of the frame?

The Pick and Choose mindset is a skill that you can begin today. Once you start actively practicing this pro technique, it’ll become second nature!

About the Author:
Kent DuFault is an author and photographer with over 35 years of experience. He’s currently the director of content at the online photography school, Photzy.com

For Further Training:

So many new photographers think the key to great images is going to beautiful places and pressing the shutter button. But how you compose a shot is actually one of the most important parts of the equation. This in-depth guide is designed to give you a complete understanding of composition fundamentals, taught through 120 easy-to-follow pages of training, illustrations, and assignments.

understanding composition

Pages from Understanding Composition

“Your photography is no different than Beethoven composing his “5th Symphony”, or Van Gogh sketching the layout for ‘Starry Night’. It all starts with GREAT composition!”

Take a peek inside: The Understanding Composition Guide at 62% Off

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One response to “Pick and Choose Tips for Photography Composition”

  1. Wendy says:

    It’s a double-edged sword. I could crop photo #4 out of photo #1, and in the time it would take to frame #1 into #4 in the field (assuming I wasn’t at the limits of my lens, and COULDN’T zoom in tighter), the scene might have changed. Unless I KNOW I’ve got time to play around with the framing, I’ll tend to leave some “cropping space” around the “must get” of the image and tweak the composition in post, when I have all the time I want.

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