Tips for awesome compositions: Part 3

By John Ellis

This is the third and final part of Tips for Understanding Composition for photographers.


Texture helps to emphasize the features and details in a photograph. By capturing the texture of objects or subjects, you can create form. Texture can be used to give a realistic character to an image.


Contrast in a photographic composition is an effective means of directing the viewer’s attention to the center of interest. In black and white photography, contrast is considered high, normal or low. High contrast has very little gray. Low contrast is flat and has little difference in tones and shades. Color contrast is created when colors opposite each other on the color wheel are used together; for example, a yellow flower against a bright blue background. Cold colors (blues) and warm colors (reds) almost always contrast. Cold colors recede and warm colors advance. High key is very bright; low key is very dark.


Framing is using other elements to draw attention to the point of interest.


The foreground should be clear of things that have no relevance to the point of interest or no connection to the image.


The background should not distract from the point of interest. The point of interest should stand out.


Perspective refers to the relationship of objects in the image.


Rhythm in an image creates momentum and activity, and eccentric placement of objects induces tension as the eye attempts to create its own balance.

All 16 of these elements of composition work in conjunction with each other with some of them outweighing others depending on the desired final image. After all, rules are made to be broken. There should be no concern on memorizing these elements—when you look at your images, you will start to analyze them and fairly soon you’ll begin to automatically apply each element without a second thought.

Happy Shooting!

John Ellis is a Photo Guide with Arizona Highways PhotoScapes