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Composition is one of the most important elements of a photograph, as it determines how the elements within the frame are arranged and interact with one another. Good composition can enhance the visual impact and storytelling of a photograph, while poor composition can detract from its overall impact. In this article, we will explore the principles of composition and how they can be used to create compelling and impactful images.

This top level discussion covers a few of the more important 'rules'.  Some rules have their own article explaining them in more detail.  If a specific rule is not expanded please contact Paul who will add the relevant content.  Please remnber rules are for guidance and can successfully be broken.

Rule of Thirds

The rule of thirds is a basic principle of photography that states that the subject of a photograph should be placed along one of the thirds lines in the frame. This helps to create a sense of balance and interest within the image, as the subject is positioned off-center and there is negative space for the eye to move around in. To apply the rule of thirds, imagine a tic-tac-toe grid overlaying the image and position the subject along one of the lines or at the intersection of two lines.

Leading Lines

Leading lines are lines within the frame that guide the viewer's eye to the subject of the photograph. These lines can be actual physical lines, such as roads or railway tracks, or they can be implied lines created by the arrangement of elements within the frame. Leading lines can help to create a sense of depth and direction in a photograph and draw the viewer's eye to the subject.


Balance is the visual weight of the elements within a photograph and how they are arranged in relation to one another. A balanced composition will have equal visual weight on both sides of the frame, creating a sense of stability and harmony. An imbalanced composition can create a sense of tension and unease.


Framing refers to the use of elements within the frame to surround and draw attention to the subject. This can be achieved through the use of natural frames, such as trees or doorways, or by using elements within the frame, such as lines or patterns, to create a frame around the subject. Framing helps to isolate the subject and make it the focal point of the image.

Negative Space

Negative space is the empty or unused space within a photograph that surrounds the subject. This space can be used to create a sense of balance and provide a visual rest for the eye. Negative space can also be used to emphasize the subject by surrounding it and drawing attention to it.


Simplicity is the idea of reducing an image to its essential elements, eliminating anything that detracts from the overall impact of the photograph. By keeping an image simple, you can create a clean, uncluttered composition that emphasizes the subject and draws the viewer's attention. This can be achieved through cropping, using a shallow depth of field, or removing elements that are distracting or redundant.


Contrast is the difference in brightness, color, or tone between the elements within a photograph. By using contrast, photographers can create a visual hierarchy that draws the eye to the subject and emphasizes it within the frame. This can be achieved through the use of light and shadow, color, or the placement of elements within the frame.

Pattern and Repetition

Patterns and repetition are visual elements that can add interest and depth to a photograph. By repeating elements within the frame, such as lines, shapes, or textures, you can create a sense of rhythm and balance. This can also help to guide the viewer's eye through the image and to the subject.

Symmetry and Asymmetry

Symmetry and asymmetry refer to the balance and arrangement of elements within a photograph. Symmetrical compositions are evenly balanced and create a sense of stability, while asymmetrical compositions are uneven and can create a sense of movement or tension. Both symmetry and asymmetry can be used to create visually appealing compositions, depending on the subject and the desired effect.


Texture is the surface quality of an object or the visual patterns within a photograph. By incorporating textures into your images, you can add depth and interest to your photographs. This can be achieved through the use of natural textures, such as rough surfaces or textured fabrics, or through the use of light and shadow to create a sense of texture in an otherwise flat surface.

In conclusion, these principles of composition are valuable tools for photographers to create images that are visually impactful and engaging. By understanding and applying these principles, you can improve the quality of your photographs and create images that tell a story and evoke emotions. As with any creative pursuit, the key to success is to experiment and practice with different techniques to find what works best for you.

Is your favourite rule missing?  Talk to Paul.

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