Composition in Photography: A Guide to Composing Better Photos

Updated: Jul 15

Composition is one of the most important topics in photography, but sometimes it feels like a nebulous concept. How do you actually improve a photo’s framing in a concrete way? This guide, Composition in Photography, aims to help.




About Composition in Photography


Composition is a difficult topic to teach.


Some photographers teach composition with a top-down method that tells photographers “follow this rule,” “don’t do that,” and “always do this.” But the big problem with this approach is that every photographer has their own way of seeing the world. Such a heavy-handed approach to composition will quickly crush the spark.


On the other hand, a bottom-up approach tells photographers things like “do what feels right” and “it’s completely up to you.” And to be frank, even though those are probably true, they aren’t very helpful or actionable.



If you found your way to this guide, I’m assuming it’s because you want to improve your composition skills in a concrete way and put some new techniques into practice. You probably don’t want to be crushed by top-down rules or just keep hearing over and over that “anything goes.”


My hope is that this guide avoids those pitfalls and actually teaches you something useful. It’s an eight-chapter course, free to read online, and it covers the most important aspects of composition from the ground up. In particular, I focus on how to capture certain emotions with your choice of composition and how to convey them effectively. Along the way, I tried to include as many practical composition tips as possible – without ever surrendering to “one size fits all” formulas of composition like the rule of thirds (which I hate).


If that sounds like the right kind of guide for you, the list of chapters is below. Composition in Photography reads from start to finish like a book, and each chapter builds on prior information. However, if you want to learn something more specific, you’re welcome to skip ahead to a later chapter in the guide.


Here are the eight chapters of Composition in Photography:

  1. Chapter 1: About this Guide (You Are Here)

  2. Chapter 2: What is Composition?

  3. Chapter 3: Elements of Composition

  4. Chapter 4: Light

  5. Chapter 5: Color

  6. Chapter 6: Simplicity

  7. Chapter 7: The Refining Process

  8. Chapter 8: Composition Tips

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