Composition 101

February 1, 2010

Imagine for a moment that you are taking your children on a day trip to the Henry Ford Museum, and you are excited to take some photographs of them at the first opportunity you have. But there’s a problem – there is a strange object in the background of the photograph sticking out of your kids head.

You need to be patient and take the time to compose a much better photograph, and if you do you will be much happier with the result. Carefully observe anything which is behind your child and make sure that whatever is there won’t interfere with the subject of your photograph – your child!

Feel The Energy

When you take the time to create a well composed photograph, anyone who looks at the photograph will experience the emotion and energy you experienced. In all forms of art composition is an important component, and photography is no different.

Composition of photos is a skill that can be learned with a little practice, and using the following tips and guidelines can greatly improve your photographs and how much you and others will enjoy them.


To start with I suggest you take a photo, any photo. Then take a look at it on the LCD on the back of your camera. Now, shoot the same subject from different angles, then with different types of backgrounds.

Next, compare the images and observe which shot works best for you. Then, if you have time, experiment some more starting with the best shot you took and making slight changes in how you compose the photograph.

Stretch Your Creativity

Try taking different kinds of photographs. For example, if you are interested in photographing your children then try taking some landscape shots. Try taking a photo down an alley, or down a street, or between some buildings. Have your child sit on a stool with a dark background and practice some portraiture.

Use these photographs to discover how to use different perspectives and explore your own creativity.

Imagine Yourself As Someone Else

Get yourself out of your usual frame of mind by imagining yourself as a different person for a day. Imagine yourself as a doctor, a teacher, a little boy or girl or even a professional photographer!

Then take photos that would interest that person, that would be from their perspective, that they would see and imagine.

Get Some New Ideas

Easy – go to some art museums and look at the artwork, go to a photography exhibit and observe the photographs carefully, surf the web and explore other photographers websites, flip through photography magazines and brainstorm with fellow amateur photographers.

The Final Goal

What this exercise is all about is discovering your creativity, your personal perspective, your very own way of photographing your children. And as you explore, experiment and discover, you will find that you have a unique and interesting creative force within you to create incredible images of your children!

Remember, keep taking lots and lots of photographs of your kids. You will be glad you did!

Betty Muscott, Child Photographer

Betty Muscott, Child Photographer

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