It’s fall photography season and it is therefore time to remind you all that composition- how you arrange the elements in your picture- actually makes a big difference. I know, the curmudgeon at it again- haven’t I heard of Lightroom or Photoshop?- but paying attention and taking your photo right is much better and much easier than taking whatever and then screwing around with it later in your computer.

So here is my entire classroom presentation on composition. Ready? Photograph a phrase.

Let me explain. Because I am a writer as well as a photographer I often think of  things, especially when it comes to explaining things, in terms of writing. When I see a photograph during a critique and ask the person to tell me what they liked about the scene it is inevitable that a bad photograph will elicit a long explanation and a great photograph will elicit a very short explanation. Happens every time.

I think the length of the explanation mirrors the clarity of the thinking process the photographer used when taking the picture. If the person is unsure exactly what he or she liked about the scene it takes lots of words to describe everything they threw into the composition. But if the person knows exactly what he or she liked it takes just a few words. Clarity of thinking equals quality of composition- the clearer you are about what it is you like about a scene the better your photograph will be.

In the two photos below the one on the left is a sloppy composition- it would take lots of words to describe all that is going on including  words about the wall and the basket. The photo on the right is simpler- it would take less words to describe it. It would take a phrase.












Simpler is always better.