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Think, then compose

Improve your pictures; don't rush your photography.


This snapshot of mother and baby could have been improved by considering composition.
This snapshot of mother and baby could have been improved by considering composition.

Composition is the result of a thought process. Many pictures fail to communicate the photographer’s objective to the viewer because the photographer had not really given thought to why he or she was taking the picture. The photographer may vaguely know in the back of his or her mind what an image is meant to say, but unless some thought is put into it to clearly identify the reason for taking the picture, the picture’s purpose will be vague to its viewers.

Take, for instance, a picture of a mother with her newborn. The proud father taking the picture often does not give much thought to what he wants the image to say. It might be: “I want to record this important event, show my wife’s joy with our new baby, the strong bond between them and the tenderness of the moment.” But, the picture’s composition may not properly convey that message because the photographer hadn’t actually clarified his objective at the time.

This composition clearly shows the photographer's purpose.
This composition clearly shows the photographer's purpose.

No one would consciously want to take a picture that looks as though the photographer said “Pick up the baby, stand straight with clutter in the background, and smile at me.” But, that is often just what seems to occur because the photographer has not identified why he or she wants to take the picture – what specific message he or she wants it to convey.

Take time to think about your picture’s purpose, and you will then be able to decide how to compose it to properly tell the story.

If the photographer had said "Hold your son close to you and look at him, not at me," that would have been a good start. It would be a way for the camera to show the mother's affection and the baby's dependance on Mom. By moving in closer to fill the frame, the photographer would have better shown the intimacy of a mother/baby picture. Repositioning for better lighting would have been the crowning touch.

These are improvements that any one of us can make. You don't have to be a professional photographer to make professional-looking pictures.

Landscape photography should not be rushed. Take the time to choose an interesting camera angle when the light is ideal.
Landscape photography should not be rushed. Take the time to choose an interesting camera angle when the light is ideal.

 
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