Better Photography Starts with Composition (Part 2 of 3)

Thanks so much for reading the first post on Rule of 3rds and FMB! Those 2 techniques are some of the main foundations to make you a better photographer. Part 2 of the Composition series focuses on 2 more important concepts to help you take better photos: Shapes and Negative Space.


The human eye is trained to recognize shapes and patterns. I love using the Shapes technique to give depth and movement to an image. Triangles, in particular, are the best way to make your photos more dynamic because the form naturally creates movement with its diagonals. There’s 2 ways to capture this by using Context or by using your Subjects:

1) Context

With context, the idea is to use the background to frame your subject. One of my favorite ways to do this is utilizing the context to create a 1 point perspective. This technique naturally leads the viewer’s eyes towards your subject. The two examples below show how the vanishing point can be in the center or off to the side. In both instances, the perspective lines frame the subjects. Some examples from my Cuba photos below:


2) Subjects

The idea here is to capture your subjects such that they form a shape. Unless you’re controlling a photo shoot, utilizing your subjects is a bit trickier since you have to get lucky for the most part. However, once you recognize it, snap away! Here are some examples of subjects forming triangles from my India photos below:


Negative Space

Negative Space is an incredibly powerful tool to put engage your viewer. What is it? It’s essentially everything except the subject of your photo. To capture an image using powerful negative space, focus on the context in which your subject is in. In other words, pay attention to the background. There’s a ton of ways to capture an image like this, but for the most part, look for these 3 techniques to get some good negative space:

1) Color

Having the background a solid color is the easiest way to utilize negative space. There’s a ton of examples out there utilizing just the sky. Here's one instance when the blue sky and blue ocean happened to blend in, highlighting the coastline and the fishermen:


2) Patterns

Patterns get a little trickier to get, but try to stick with patterns that are similar in color to make your subject stand out. For example, this baseball outfielder below:


3) Lighting

Lighting is one of my favorite ways to create an image with negative space (more in depth on lighting later). It works here to highlight the subjects with the stage in complete darkness.


Thank you so much for tuning in! The final part of the Composition series will be posted in 2 weeks. Be sure to subscribe to receive updates and follow @HappyPandaTravels on Instagram for inspirations!

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