Thoughts on Composition

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Thoughts from Nichola Morton at Nichola Morton Photography …


The composition of an image, the rule of thirds, leading lines and focus points are all expressions you hear a lot from your fellow photographers. Ask a few of your non-photographer friends, and they may ponder to think of what you mean for a few seconds, before saying “eh?”. You don’t need professional photography training to spot a good image when you see one - photographer or not, beautiful images are universally recognised. When it comes to shooting to sell to clients, the majority of our customers wouldn’t have the foggiest about the rule of thirds, and frankly, they probably wouldn’t care. What they are interested in though, are shots that capture beautiful moments, photographs that make them stop and stare and images that conjure the deepest of emotions.


When you’re out working, whether you’re at a wedding or a family photoshoot, you are under a certain amount pressure from beginning to end. Lots of questions can go through our minds - ‘is the light good?’, ‘are the camera settings correct?’ and ‘am I involving my client in the shoot and making them feel comfortable?’. It can all become a bit of a blur. Lots of photographers new to the business can find photoshoots or weddings very stressful, and the secret is - half the battle is the composition of your photographs.


When I look through my viewfinder, I don’t generally press the shutter straight away. I observe the scene and try to imagine what I want the end result to look like. Due to years of experience, I now do this within a split second. If you’re just starting out in the business or you want to improve the composition of your photographs, take a look at the portfolios of the masters in art and photography. You will begin to notice that each person has their own way of composing an image or painting, but that the rules remain the same - great composition. Don’t be afraid of pushing the boundaries either - use negative space or focal points such as shoes or details to compose your imagery. Familiarise yourself with the rule of thirds and leading lines, but don’t be afraid to bend those rules either.


Composing beautiful imagery is made easier when thinking about your end result. Try to notice anything in the shot that could be distracting to the eye i.e. lampposts, fire exits, telephone wires, bits of litter, or anything else that does not add to your shot. It’s true that sometimes these things cannot be avoided, and post-production can remove unwanted items, however - if you can avoid having them in your shot in the first place, it can save you a lot of time. Something that helps me compose a beautiful wedding photograph is when I think “will my client want to put this image on their wall?” and “will they want to use this in their album?” When out and about doing portrait shoots, it becomes a little easier. Will your client want to BUY your image? Will you want to display the image proudly on your website? A few seconds of considering your image, the end result and client reaction, can really improve your work.


Image and Blog by Nichola from Nichola Morton Photography

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