Lesson – Rules of Composition

Composition refers to the way a photo is constructed/planned to make the biggest possible impact.

Composition rules are ingredients that a photographer may use, but just like a chef wouldn’t use all of the ingredients in his pantry in one meal, a photographer won’t use every composition skill in one photograph.

9 Rules of Composition

  • Rule of Thirds: If you divide your picture into a tic-tac-toe board, your subject should not be located in the center square. It should be off center to draw attention.
  • Repetition: A repeating pattern works well to emphasize your subject. A little bit of variance (changing it up) within the repetition is even better.
  • Worm’s Eye View: Shot from directly above.
  • Bird’s Eye View: Shot from very low to the ground.
  • Fill the Frame: Photo has a strong, dominant focal point and/or center of interest. Keep your background simple to avoid distractions.
  • Framing: Use natural elements to create a frame for your photo, so your audience knows exactly what your focus is.
  • Leading Lines: Lines in a photo direct a viewer’s focus to the photo’s subject.
  • Selective Focus: When a photographer narrows a picture’s depth of field so that only part of the picture is in focus.


A journalistic photo must also tell a compelling story.

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