11 basic composition mistakes you need to stop making...

.... if you want to be big on Instagram


Before we start, register here for my free beginner's photography workshop, A Year With My Camera:


Which of these photo composition mistakes do you make?

1. Too much in the frame

Keep it minimal, with lots of breathing space. To stand out on Instagram you have to stand out on a small screen. Everything in the frame needs to earn it’s place. If in doubt, don’t include it. 

2. Embarrassing, amateur mistakes

Lampposts coming out of heads, unnoticed photobombs, a sloping horizon - these can be fixed if you just look around the edges of the frame before you press the shutter.

3. Using the obvious viewpoint

Adult head height is not the only place to take a photograph from. The easiest way to stand out in the feed is to have an unusual viewpoint. People look twice.

4. Distractions in the background 

You don’t want your viewer’s attention being drawn away from your subject. Anything red, anything bright, and any faces will automatically draw attention.

5. Subject blending into background

Do you understand background separation? Do you know how to use contrast and light to make your subject pop out? 

A Year With My Camera

Do you need more help with this? Did you know I offer a free beginner's photography workshop by email, that covers all this and more? Join here and get started today:

6. Far too much foreground

Are you really paying attention to what's in your frame, or do you snap and move on? Create a more thoughtful image by reducing the amount of foreground in your image (unless you're a landscape photographer where the foreground is the image).

7. Careless placement

If your subject is centrally placed, it needs to be exactly central. If you’re using the rule of thirds, get it spot on. Tight composition makes you look professional. 

8. Ignoring the light

The light is just as much a piece of your image as your subject. You need to control the direction and the quality, not to mention the colour. 

9. More than one subject

You need one, clear focal point - only one idea per image. Instagram is not the place to show your complex images; people will just scroll on by (unless they are already following you for your complex images).

10. Not knowing basic design principles

Do you know why you should use symmetry, odd numbers, repetition and diagonals? Do you think about hierarchy and visual weight when you compose? 

11. Leaving it to chance

Be deliberate about where you place every element in your photograph. You can’t fix poor composition, but it only takes seconds to get it right before you press the shutter. Competent composition is what turns a snapshot into a photograph. 

What next?

You'll need about 6 weeks of continual practise to eradicate these mistakes for good. Why not just start with one? Pick one of the mistakes you know you make, and think about it before you press the shutter on every image you take for at least a week.

A Year With My Camera runs continually throughout each year. It's a positive, step by step way to become more confident using your camera. Why not join in this year? (It's free.)