20 rules & tips to have a good composition in photography

Without good composition, your photo isn’t likely to be very eye-catching.

In the past I always thought that when taking a photo my object should be in the center to be more clear and visible. But it turned out to be something else 🙂 

1. Golden Ratio

The golden ratio is actually a number done by dividing a shape into parts based on this ratio which is at the end 1 to 1.618 after doing all math calculations.

It is used in several things around us and it is the optimum balance which make us feel comfortable looking at it.

You don’t need to get it all as the numbers don’t have to make sense in applying the concept in photography, just try to imagine the spiral shape on the photo. You can have the spiral any direction,that doesn’t matter.

Try to put your main object on the smallest part of the spiral, the eye will naturally flow through the rest of the photo as well as being pleased with the balance made by this golden ratio.

You can also make it easier by looking atthe lines within the spiral.

2. Triangles 

Imaginary diagonal line across the photo frame and imaginary lines from the other two corners, meeting the long line at right angles (90◦).

Try to position your objects at the points of intersection of the lines and use the lines to divide your frame and direct the eye to the main objects.

Another thing also in the triangle rule is trying to have triangle shape between the objects in your photo.

3. Rule Of Thirds

The rule of thirds is one of the most common and useful composition rules in photography. It is important to know it as it can be used in all types of photography to get better and more balanced images which will be more catchy.

The rule of thirds is dividing your image into 3 thirds horizontal and vertical using two horizontal lines and two vertical lines. You try to position your objects in one of those thirds or in matching a line of the two lines (horizontal or vertical) or at the points of intersection of the lines.

The idea behind this rule is that putting objects away from the center of the photo makes a more catchy and interesting shot.

4. Leading Lines

Leading lines is another very useful composition rule. It can help to focus the viewer’s eye on the main object in the photo and make a depth for the photo. It can be used with vertical,horizontal or diagonal lines form natural lines of any element inside the photo to lead and direct the eye.

Qanater – Egypt

5. Framing

Another useful rule is framing which uses objects in the photo to frame the main object and give depth and interest to the shot. These are like doors, windows, mirrors, or any other object. You can shoot from inside them or from outside and in front of them.

Ramsis II – Abu Simbel Temple – Egypt

6. Fill the Frame

You can fill all the picture with your object especially in portrait (people) type of photography.

7. Patterns and repetition

Patterns are pleasing, but it would be more catchy by interrupting and breaking it.

Patterns can be done with shapes as well as colors.

8. Different Perspectives / Angles

Try to look at alternative points of view when taking your photos.

Look up don’t just look in front of you,get down on the ground, climb on a high point, move to the side that’s to change your point of view. Try as many different angles as you can. That shows how you see the object and gives interest to the viewer.

9. Reflections

Try to look for reflective surfaces and put your object at angles or in direct comparison to the reflection. Water, mirrors, glasses and smooth and shiny surfaces all make awesome reflections.


Qanater – Egypt

10. Contrast

The contrast between the object and the background or the contrast between colors in a photo gives strength to the photo. It could be done by using black and white and can be done with other things than colors, like different ages of people and different heights of people or things.

11. Details

Get close and try to focus on the small details.

12. Use positive and negative space

Sometimes big empty spaces in the photos gives it a stunning view, try this.

But note that this also have some rules. The main one is that this space should be in front of the object or person not behind them.

13. Panorama 

There are some situations where the standard camera/mobile camera won’t do justice to the scene you’re trying to capture. This is especially in landscape and cityscape where you can’t fit everything in the frame. Then you can use panorama mode if available or take several shots with different angles and merge panorama photo in Photoshop.

14. Crop

Sometimes you are rushed and trying to get a quick photo without looking for all the composition rules, then you need to shoot wider than you want and crop later to change or enhance your photo.

15. Depth of field

Put your main object in focus and others out of focus to give strength to that object in your photo.

16. Make your composition 

Don’t wait for the perfect composition to happen. Move people and things or get things along to your frame to make it more stunning.

In the below lantern photo I got another lantern to put it behind my main one to make a good composition as well as getting the shells and put it like that in the other photo. 

17. Take care of Distracting Backgrounds 

Have a look on your backgrounds and try to have a comfortable one and not to be distracting with lots of objects and colors as not to distract attention from your main object. If there is no option then there are two options, either to convert the photo to black and white or to change your angle to have different backgrounds. This will help removing the distraction.

18. Know your color

Make use of complimentary colors. And use color patterns and shapes to add a taste to your photo.

19. Take Multiple Shots

If you see something that catches your eye don’t just take one shot but rather take multiple shots as to have better chances of getting a good photo (in stability, sharpness and composition). Take shots from different angles and distances.

And now we use digital photography which give you the space to delete whatever you don’t like later.

A point you need to take care of in that matter is your “Storage” be sure always to have enough storage to take multiple shots.

20. Save with high resolution

Take care to always save your photos with the highest possible resolution in your camera, as this will help in not losing its quality if you need to edit them.

At the end rules are made to break, so break the rules!

But know why and when to break them.

Be patient, Enjoy and have Fun 🙂

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