All photographs, images and text are copyright Paul Ligas Photography Limited 2020.

Photography Tip: Composition


[Originally posted 12 January 2011. Minor edits and updates]

What makes your eye move around an image? What about a photograph or a painting captures your attention? The composition of the elements in a photograph will provide both a natural focus on the subject and give your eye lines or curves to follow around the image.

This spontaneous photograph, taken on a beach in Cornwall, follows a triangular composition dividing the image into rough thirds, vertically and horizontally, while providing a natural circuit of diagonal lines for the viewer’s attention to follow between Ben’s eyes, the dog’s eye’s and the ball on the sand just about to be picked up.

Tying the main elements of the photograph together like this builds a strong narrative, emphasises the subject(s) and can be used to create tension, strength, drama, calmness or completion. Composing a photograph is something learned, a skill that your eye develops when you pay attention to the photographs you’re taking. You simply start to ‘know’ where to be to get the best of the subject in front of you, or as Ansel Adams said: “A good photograph is knowing where to stand”.

Further reading: Compositional Scheme 1 — The Triangle by Jurate Macnoriute; Golden Ratio in Art and Architecture by Samuel Obara.

About the photographer

The Photographer SmallPaul Ligas is a professional commercial photographer based in Herefordshire, working across the Worcestershire, Gloucestershire and the UK. Follow on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram, and connect on LinkedIn.