This is a tutorial with notes about Photography Composition, created as a result of a class conducted in the f16-Fotografía Collective, to whom I would like to thank for their attentions. As a result of the class I decided to make this website, while expanding upon some of the concepts of the work we did in class. Thank you.

These notes are designed to present photography composition starting with some of the established rules accepted for many years now in this subject. These rules will be summed up in the explanations on this website. They are essential for composing correctly and for making sure your photographs are interesting to the public.

What is composition?

Composition is the way in which the objects seen within a frame are arranged. Consequently, in photography we can sum it up as the decision about how we want all the components to appear in a photo.

What is it for?

It seems an obvious question; so much that maybe we’ve never even asked ourselves the question (I myself haven’t done it until now). Composition serves to attract attention to what you’re trying to show, to enhance the theme of your photo. You do have a reason for taking photos, don’t you?

When do we compose?

The eternal argument: does one compose at the moment of taking the photo, or afterwards in the lab? The fact is that both answers are correct.

If you are a modern-day photojournalist, most probably you would apply your knowledge of composition at the moment of taking the photo so that it tells the story better. Later on people will appreciate that your photograph was as close as possible to reality. They would also appreciate quick publication, and as a result you wouldn’t have had much time to make changes after taking the photo.

But maybe you are a photographer who wants to work over a period of years on a project with a particular theme. In that case it’s possible that you could be more lax about composition when you take the photos, since later on you can calmly change the photographs so that they end up “telling” the story more convincingly. And you do it that way, in the midst of other things, because you realize that over time, letting the photographs sit helps you discover things about them that you would never have noticed back when you first took them.

How does this tutorial work?

There is a page for each rule of composition. To move among the different rules, there is the navigation menu at the top of the page where you can select the rule that you want to look at. Subsequently you will find the explanatory text of the rule/composition technique and at the end various examples illustrating it.

There is no established order or timeframe; it is a tutorial for consultation. Visit it when you want and take your time to reflect on each rule. I recommend that when you have read the information about a rule you should think, look at the examples, and try to look for examples in your own photos.

In the Conclusion section you will also find a small exercise for practicing the concepts of the tutorial.

Tutorial developed by Lluís Ribes i Portillo. This work is under license Creative Commons Reconocimiento-NoComercial 3.0 Unported