Composition Challenge Tips

Composition is how you arrange the visual elements in your photograph. Good composition can make your images more powerful, appealing and effective. Here are some tips.

The Rule of Thirds

Divide your frame into thirds vertically and horizontally. According to the rule of thirds, the most visually interesting parts of a photograph should fall along one of the lines, or at one of the points where the lines intersect. Put what’s important along the lines.

Photograph by @Kate

Photograph by @Kate

Create Balance

Balance in photography is when the elements in your image—objects, lines, colors, space—are distributed in an equally weighted way. Each part holds interest and keeps the viewer engaged.

With symmetrical balance, elements on one side of an image visually echo those on the other. The effect is calm, order, and stability.

Sisters Violeta, 21, and Massiel, 15, at the Limited in a mall, San Francisco, California, negative 1999, print 2008, Lauren Greenfield. The J. Paul Getty Museum. © Lauren Greenfield/INSTITUTE

Sisters Violeta, 21, and Massiel, 15, at the Limited in a mall, San Francisco, California, negative 1999, print 2008, Lauren Greenfield. The J. Paul Getty Museum. © Lauren Greenfield/INSTITUTE

With asymmetrical balance, elements of an image do not appear visually weighted in identical ways, yet they work together harmoniously. One half of the photograph may contain the main subject—to draw the viewer’s eye—balanced by open space in the image’s other half.

Photograph by @Linsey

Photograph by @Linsey

Create a focal point

A focal point is the place where your eye rests; it guides where to look, and keeps the viewer engaged. Decide on, and emphasize, one or two focal points in your photograph. Too many will confuse the viewer. Make the focal point large, bring it into sharp focus, or emphasize color, to bring attention.

Photograph by @Karina

Photograph by @Karina

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