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Nikon D3300 Digital Field Guide by J. Dennis Thomas

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Appendix A: General Composition Tips

Photography is an art form, and so follows the same rules of composition as every other form of visual art, such as painting, drawing, and collage. Although they are called “rules,” they are really more like guidelines because, obviously, you aren’t required to follow them.

Different subjects often require different approaches, and many of the rules of composition often overlap as well, resulting in images that have more than one of these rules in effect.

As I said, you aren’t bound to the rules of composition, but when you’re just growing accustomed to any visual art, learning these rules and following them will help you learn to create images that are above and beyond general snapshots so you can make professional-looking photographs. Eventually, as you thoughtfully apply the concepts to your photography over and over, you will find yourself intuitively applying them to your compositions.

Keep It Simple

Simplicity is one of the great keys to making a strong image. An image that has a succinctly defined subject commands more attention than a composition in which the viewer must scan the image to determine which part is most important. Images that contain a variety of competing elements can be distracting and cause the viewer to lose interest.

One technique professional photographers use to create simplicity in an image, especially in a busy environment, is to use a wide aperture to create a shallow depth of field, isolating the subject from ...

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