Composition: Putting it All Together
What Really Matters
Awareness is not an easy thing. As children, we were fascinated by the world around us, but over the years since then the act of awareness has probably taken on a more utilitarian nature. We pay attention to traffic lights and the evening news, bank statements and email. What is needed is to rediscover the simple fascination with living. Get out and really explore the world around you. Get in touch with what matters to you. When you go out with your camera, allow yourself to be led by your enjoyment of what you find and the process of discovery itself. Don't be in a hurry just to get a picture — take your time to explore your subject and really get to know it.
There are limits to how much you can improve your photography by buying a new camera or lens. Once you have reasonably mastered the basics of the technology, the main area for improvement is in through improved composition. Not everyone sees things the same way and only you can capture images that come from your own creative vision.
The guidelines and concepts I have covered over the past several weeks will give you somewhere to start, some tools that will help you begin to better communicate and share your own unique perspective of the world. Not every tool will necessarily work in every situation of course, but then you don't use every lens you have for every shot either. We've covered a lot, but there is plenty more that could be covered with more time. I urge you to explore the ideas and techniques of composition further. Keep in mind that ultimately what matters though is what pleases you. The more you can become in touch with this the better your compositions will become.
Breaking the Rules
One final point: don't be afraid to break these "rules" if it will help to illustrate the essence of what you are trying to show. The reflection of a mountain in a lake can look its best when centered. Placing it on a thirds point would look awkward. If you photograph a hillside with one lone tree on it, it can look even more precarious than it actually is if you position it above the thirds point. So long as you do it for a reason, go with whatever seems to work no matter who has told you not to. It's your photograph and your composition. If it pleases you, go with it and see what you end up with.