Learning Photography Composition

Eilean Donan Castle. Leading lines.

Learning Photography Composition is more than just pointing a camera and pressing the shutter button and hoping for the best. Photography is an art form that involves carefully composing your shots to create visually captivating images. Learning photographic composition is like having a set of tools at your disposal to craft compelling photographs that tell a story, evoke emotions, and capture the viewer’s attention. In this article, we’ll cover three essential elements of photographic composition: the rule of thirds, leading lines, and the use of color.

Rannoch Moor Rule of Thirds
Forest Leading Lines
Bloue Door, Rule of Thirds and use of Color

The Rule of Thirds: Finding Balance and Interest

The rule of thirds is a fundamental guideline in photography composition. Imagine dividing your frame into a 3×3 grid with two horizontal lines and two vertical lines, creating nine equal parts. The idea is to position key elements of your composition along these lines or at their intersections. This technique creates a balanced yet dynamic visual effect that draws the viewer’s eye and adds a sense of movement to your image.

When applying the rule of thirds, consider the main subject of your photo. Instead of placing it dead center, try positioning it along one of the gridlines. For example, when photographing a majestic mountain range, you might position the horizon along the lower third line to emphasize the grandeur of the mountains and the vastness of the sky.

Read more about the Rule of thirds

Leading Lines: Guiding the Viewer’s Eye

Leading lines are natural or man-made elements within a photograph that guide the viewer’s gaze towards a specific focal point. These lines can be straight, curved, diagonal, or converging, and they add depth and dimension to your composition. By using leading lines effectively, you can create a sense of movement and direct the viewer’s attention where you want it to go.

Imagine a photograph of a serene pathway through a lush forest. The path itself can serve as a powerful leading line, drawing the viewer’s eye from the foreground into the heart of the image. This technique not only adds visual interest but also invites the viewer to explore the scene you’ve captured.

The Use of Color: The Attention Grabber


Color is a potent tool in photography composition that can convey emotions, set the mood, grab your attention and tell a story. Different colors evoke distinct feelings: warm colors like red and orange can express energy and passion, while cooler tones like blue and green can evoke tranquility and calmness. Understanding color theory can help you intentionally choose color palettes that enhance the impact of your photographs.


Consider a vibrant sunset over the ocean. The warm hues of the setting sun reflecting on the water can create a sense of warmth and nostalgia. Alternatively, a photograph dominated by cool blues and purples can convey a serene and peaceful atmosphere, perhaps capturing the tranquility of a quiet lake at dawn.

Photography Composition

In the image above: “NY Taxi’s” I attempted to use all three rules, Rule of thirds, were the skyline goes along the top third of the image. Leading lines: The line of the Taxi’s mirrors the very strong lines of the bridge leading the eye through the image. Use of color: I desaturated the whole image except the Taxi’s allowing them to stand out on the snow covered bridge in a NY winter.

In conclusion:

learning photography composition is an ongoing process that requires both knowledge and creative intuition. By embracing the rule of thirds, harnessing the power of leading lines, and understanding the language of color, you’ll be well on your way to creating captivating images that resonate with viewers and tell your unique visual stories. So grab your camera, venture out into the world, and start crafting photographs that truly speak to your artistic vision.

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