Image Composition – Some Guidelines

There’s a great article in Amateur Photographer this week which has kind of stolen my thunder with respect to composition, but for those that don’t read it I’ll talk today about some guidelines that exist for improving composition.

Day 12

Day 12

Probably the most common compositional guideline is the Rule of thirds which I discussed in the post on Cropping a little while ago. It’s a technique that I use a lot and in the above example from a couple of weeks ago you can see that the horizon is on the top third line and the barrier runs up the left third.

Akin to this is the Golden Ratio/ or Golden Mean – described mathematically in this Wiki article [ ] but often seen in nature, it’s a neat way of getting flow and balance into a shot (which we’ll talk about next time).

GM right

You can see some examples by searching golden ration photography ].

I have to say it’s not something I use consciously, and I have only found a couple of images that even come close to fitting the template.


Leading lines is another common compositional technique which makes it easy for the eye to travel through the image and find the point of focus.


A different way of focussing the viewer’s attention is through Negative Space where you deliberately leave areas of the shot blank.

9 V up

Finally in this section is Symmetry – this can provide some compelling geometric images, if you like that sort of thing, but there’s nothing worse than an image that’s nearly symmetrical but not quite.


Why not pick one of these techniques and go out and shoot specifically with that technique in mind. And if you have any shots that fit the golden ratio pattern, post it in the comments below as I’d love to see some really good examples.

  • Share post

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *