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The most useful composition tip – EVER!

OK, as if my recent post wasn’t generous enough, here’s another absolute gem of a tip that’s served me incredibly well throughout most of my career, and will immediately make a difference to your photography.  This is just about composition, and no, it’s not “Try and use the rule of thirds!”

Run your eyes right around the edge of the frame, each and every time you bring the viewfinder up to your eye (or LCD screen – you get the idea). It doesn’t matter which corner you start from, whether you go clockwise or anti-clockwise, just run your eyes right round the edge.

4 Corners
It’s as easy as this – just run your eyes around the edge of the frame before you shoot.  Then reframe if needed. Large red arrows optional.

Having analysed your frame, is it the right frame? Do you need to get closer to your subject, or move further back? Is everything in the frame working harmoniously to tell the story you want to tell (and answer that all important question)? Are there things entering or leaving the frame that break up the picture? Is there an electricity pylon growing out of the middle of your subjects head?

Wider Composition

Tighter Composition
A better shot can be found by zooming out, stepping back, or reframing and moving around.  In this case simply by cropping in tighter. The shot at the top is fine, but I think the tighter shot is a stronger image.  It does a better job of picking Matt out against the sheer wall of the valley behind him. Taken for Men’s Fitness on Pen Y Fan with the guys at The Special Forces Experience.

To begin with, as with any habit, you’ll start out slowly.  Very soon you’ll find that you’re scanning the frame almost instantly, and instinctively reframe when things aren’t right. Start doing this on a regular basis, and watch how much your composition, and as a result, your photography improves.

Apologies if you were after something more in depth, esoteric or complex – sometimes it’s good to dish out quick but very effective information! Enjoy!

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