Part 2 Lesson 3: Thinking about the whole frame

In the last couple of weeks you've been looking at using viewpoint to change the balance between subject, foreground and background, and also concentrating on having a single focal point in your image.

This week I'm going to run through 4 composition principles that photographers borrow from graphic designers to create aesthetically pleasing images. They all need you to take a step back and think about the whole frame again. You still need to think about having a single focal point, and where you place it within the frame, but then you need to consider how the entire image works together.


There are lots of things to remember this week.

1. Remember the background/subject/foreground balance, and use your viewpoint to find the best balance.

2. Remember to give your viewer a single focal point to focus on. One subject only per photograph. Use techniques from last week's lesson to draw attention to the subject - leading lines, rule of thirds, background separation. You don't need to do all of them.

For this week's project you are also going to pick at least one of the following four additional techniques and create an aesthetically pleasing, well considered image.

You will need to use your judgment about whether you need to use everything we've covered. For example, if you are filling the frame, you won't need to consider foreground and background, or background separation. And if you are using leading lines you may find that you have already included the diagonals technique without thinking about it.

If it's too much to think about, forget the previous 2 weeks lessons for now, and just concentrate on using one of these techniques:

1. Threes and fives

It's a basic principle of human behaviour that we prefer odd numbers. Things grouped in 3s or 5s are more pleasing than 2s or 4s. It's the same idea that lies behind the rule of thirds from last week - humans prefer slight asymmetry.

If you compose in 2s and 4s you'll find your images are very static and a bit dull. 3s and 5s adds a bit of tension and movement. (If you want static images, use the 2s and 4s.)

2. Fill the frame

Do away with foreground and background altogether, and fill the frame with your subject. This can make for an intense, abstract photo, so use sparingly.

3. Symmetry

No real explanation needed - we love symmetry in a photo. Don't forget it can go diagonally as well as horizontally/vertically.

4. Diagonals

Much like the rule of thirds and the 3s/5s technique, using diagonals will add tension and interest to your photograph. Using straight lines will create static, dull images.