Composition is the placement or arrangement of visual elements or ingredients in a work of art, as distinct from the subject of a work.
There are a number of established composition principles, which can be applied in almost any situation to enhance the impact of a scene. These principles will help you take more compelling photographs, tell a more in depth story, or just make whatever you are creating more visually pleasing lending the audience a helping hand.
I will list a few of these principles and once you are familiar with these principles, you’ll be surprised at just how universal most of them are. You’ll spot them everywhere, and you’ll find it easy to see why some composition works, while others feel like simple basic shots.
One of these principles is THE RULE OF THIRDS. Imagine that your image is divided into 9 equal segments by 2 vertical and 2 horizontal lines. The Rule of Thirds requires you to position the most important elements in your scene along these lines, or at the points where they intersect. When you look at a photo the eye is naturally drawn along lines. By thinking about how you place lines in your composition, you can affect the way you view the image, pulling you into the picture towards the subject or on a journey through the scene. Doing so will add balance and interest to your shot. A great example to show balance and symmetrical composition, as well as other principles discussed here, are films by Wes Anderson.
This photo showcases our characters, the setting and the balance of the story it is trying to tell.
Another principle of composition is Centre of Interest. This is the area that first attracts attention and the importance of a scene in composition, either through more colour or the placement.
It is important to balance the “weight” of your story by including other objects of lesser importance to fill the space. In the image below, the focus is purely drawn to the man in the purple jacket, but there are enough objects and signs to give us insight to what he does, and his character’s plot in the movie.
Another principle is Viewpoint. Before shooting your subject, take time to think about where you will shoot it. The viewpoint has a massive impact on the composition of the shot, and as a result it can greatly affect the message that the shot conveys. Rather than just shooting from eye level, consider all angles.
Whatever medium you choose it is two-dimensional and the composition must be chosen carefully to convey the sense of depth that was present in the actual scenario.
Composition is what gets the message across to the audience. It is up to the creator whether he chooses to do this through objects, characters, colours, or viewpoints or a combination of some or all of these. By using the principles listed here, the creator guides his audience to his vision.