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Photographing Children Photo Workshop, Second Edition by Ginny Felch

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©Ginny Felch / www.photographingchildren.com

Chapter 5: Composing Photographs

From a Snapshot to a Fine Portrait

Focus on Feeling

Keeping It Simple

Framing the Image

Parents as Props

The Rule of Thirds

Using Lines

Breaking the Rules

Composition refers to the arrangement of the elements in a photograph to create a pleasing whole. At its very essence, composition is a decision about what to include and, just as important, what to leave out of any given photograph. The human eye appreciates order of some sort and visual paths to follow. As a photographer, your decisions about composition can help lead your viewer’s eye to what is most important in your photograph.

Composition in photography is perhaps the most subjective element of all. For some photographers, composition is unconscious or second nature; their sense of balance and emphasis comes naturally. Other photographers come from an art or painting background and can apply their experience with basic composition and graphic elements. Even if you don’t have an art background, you can study and learn composition. It will take a great deal of observation and developing your eye. Learning some basic guidelines will help you simplify and improve your photography immediately. When you have a firm grasp of the guidelines you will be able to bend them a little, maybe even break a rule or two.

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