Composition. Learn the Rules.
Whilst rules are meant to be broken, you must first know what they are and why we use them.
Technically, the rules are more like guidelines, but the reason we use them is that they work.
Whether you’re shooting in manual or auto, using a DSLR or a phone Camera, knowing what makes for a good image is key.
1) Composition and Framing.
Aside from focus, this is the most important.
The rule of thirds is effective and should be used as your main guideline. Simply, the rule of thirds encourages you visually divide your image into a grid of nine.
Distributing, for example, 2/3 ground and 1/3 sky
The alternating orientation having 1/3 with tree and 2/3 with scene.
The exception is symmetry. Symmetry: meaning that if you folded your image in half, the two sides would mirror, however be sure to consider the alternating orientation and apply the rule of thirds.
2) Leading Lines
Leading lines are used to draw the viewers eye into the photograph.
It is a way to capture their attention and make certain that they see what you want them to.
Leading lines are things such as roads, fences, pathways, rivers, buildings and walls. Using these in your image will force people to follow the line to your subject and/or look at the whole image.
Lines, especially curved or converging lines, will add more dimension to your shot and give a strong sense of perspective.
3) Know your Light
Knowing what the light will do to your subject is important. This is mostly leaned by experience, so get out & shoot in all different lighting conditions.
Pick a scene, and shoot that so that you have direct comparisons.
However, the photographers ‘Golden Hour’ is the time shortly after sunrise or before sunset. The sunlight is redder and softer during this period.
This is a great time to be out shooting especially as a beginner as it will give you a chance to work on your framing & composition without wondering about your light.
Focus, exposure and colour balance are all ‘rules’ because they result in an image that is pleasing to the eye.
Once you have mastered these, go ahead and break the rules. As a photographic artist, you need to find your own aesthetic view point. It’s just important that when you do ‘break the rules’ you know why you have done it.
Remember, one of the greatest street photographers, Henri Cartier-Bresson, said ‘Your first 10’000 photographs are your worst.’
We get to that number a lot faster now with digital, but basically… Practice!