Your native camera app features a useful composition tool in the form of a grid. Its main function is to guide you where you need to place your subject in the frame.
It also helps you make sure your screen is straight when taking photos.
The grid uses a concept in composition called the Rule of Thirds. When you turn it on, it divides the screen into 9 squares (or 3×3 hence the Rule of Thirds).
To create a balanced composition, all you have to do is line up your subject where the lines intersect.
To turn on the camera grid on your iPhone, go to Settings and look for Photos and Camera. Then go to Grid and switch on the toggle beside it.
Next time you activate your native camera app, the grid will be on the screen to help you in framing the shot.
The Rule of Thirds is the most common composition technique there is. It’s simple and easy to understand. But there are plenty of other methods out there you may not know about that are as good.
A few of the less common compositions techniques include symmetrical and asymmetrical balance.
Symmetrical involves arranging subjects in your frame so they look equal. This is akin to a mirror image. Meanwhile, asymmetrical involves removing elements in your frame that otherwise makes everything symmetrical.
You can also use leading lines which “lead” the viewer to the main subject of your photo. We’ll discuss more about them later.
The examples we mentioned are simple to execute. You can even use the grid to apply these techniques to your photos.
You should also consider looking up other composition concepts such as Radial Balance and Golden Ratio.
They may seem a bit more complicated to understand, but you’ll find them useful once you figure out how to use them.
Framing your shot is not only about creating balance in your picture. It also helps your viewer’s eyes immediately lock on to what you want them to see first.
That’s why you must select your point of interest before you take a photo.
Your main subject is the anchor point of your image and dictates how you will frame the scene.
If you’re shooting a person, you can use your subject’s head as a reference to figure out where to place your grid. As mentioned before, you can position it right where the lines of the grid intersect. This creates harmony in your photo.
If you have an inanimate object as your main subject, then look for an element that makes it stand out.
For instance, if you’re shooting a bicycle, consider using the wheels as your anchor points in which to position your grid.
Also, remember to isolate the subject from the rest of its environment. So try to look for backgrounds that are not distracting. That way, your point of interest stands out more.
When taking photos, make sure that your camera is about at the same height as your main subject. The reason is that people engage better with your image if everything is at eye-level.
Don’t make the mistake of pointing the angle of your camera up because your subject is taller. Or down because they’re shorter. Instead, raise or lower your phone using your arms until the device is at the same height as your subject.
When shooting people, you don’t have to raise as high as your subjects head. You can stop once you reach the person’s eyes and shoot from that height instead.
Of course, you don’t always have to shoot at eye-level. Photographing from high or low angles have their advantages. These bring different moods to your photos (we’ll discuss more of this as we go along).
In general, it’s the go-to angle for most photos.
Now that we’ve discussed framing at eye-level, let’s talk about shooting from other angles. As mentioned, they not only create a different perspective but also change the mood of your image.
For instance, shooting low makes your subject bigger and more intimidating. Meanwhile taking photos from a high angle makes your subject look smaller.
As a consequence, it makes the viewer feel more powerful and the subject look vulnerable.
Apart from high and low perspectives, you can also try other angles to add drama to your image. A great example is called the Dutch angle. This involves tilting your camera at about 30 or 45-degree angle to create an edgy look.
As you can tell, each angle represents a different vibe so you need to think about when to use it.
If you think any of these perspectives don’t work for your framing, then stick to eye-level to avoid any issues.
Sometimes, a photo can look flat even if the composition is correct. What you want in your image is perspective. You can achieve that by knowing what to do with the foreground and background.
To make your image look 3-dimensional, you need to include elements in front and behind the person or object that you’re shooting.
It could be anything from trees to benches and even other people. Doing so makes it easier for viewers to see the space between the subject and the camera.
Make sure that whatever you include in the foreground or background doesn’t block your subject. It’s also crucial that the elements in your frame don’t distract away from your main point of interest.
Keep it minimal or simple. One or two objects in the scene are often enough to create a sense of dimension.
People are naturally attracted to lines. They create balance and help direct attention.
Like with angles, you can use lines to create different effects in your composition. For instance, you can try using leading lines to create a sense of depth to your image.
Don’t hesitate to include lines in the foreground to add a sense of 3-dimensionality. These can be like ones you find in streets and corridors.
You can also use lines to create optical tricks. If you want your main subject to look taller, you can try including vertical lines.
If you want them to look wider, you can use horizontal lines, instead. Meanwhile, you can use diagonal lines if you want to create the illusion of movement in your image.
Just like lines, shapes also help bring focus to your shots. Apart from leading the eyes to your subject, they also create great framing options for you.
There are all sorts of shapes everywhere from round windows to rectangular doors. You can use them as a frame within a frame to isolate your subject from the rest of the environment.
You can use different shapes for certain framing functions. For instance, triangles are perfect for “pointing” focus on the subject. This is because they look like arrows.
Squares and rectangles create balance and simplicity. This is because they’re stable and have equal sides.
Finally, circles force you to concentrate on the main point of interest. They create a tunnel effect.
You can also experiment with unusual shapes such as polygons and trapezoids. These can create a futuristic and industrial feel.
You can even work with 3D shapes such as cylinders, cubes, and pyramids. These create dynamic compositions.
One trick that would help you improve your framing in photography is knowing where to shoot.
Sure, you don’t always get to shoot in the best locations. But every place always has composition elements you could use to create the perfect shot.
Before taking a photo, you should always scout for a good background. The ideal one needs to have elements that have lines or shapes you can use for framing.
Apart from that it also shouldn’t be too busy and distracting.
Keep this mindset even when you’re shooting candid shots. Scope the area before taking a picture.
Sometimes, all it takes is a few steps sideways or back to find the exact spot you want to be. So don’t forget to look around.
Now that you know what to look for while framing, it’s time to implement what you learned in this article in real situations.
The most common technique you can try while in the field is what’s called frame within a frame.
In simple terms, it’s a technique that involves placing a frame you find in your environment inside your camera frame.
For instance, you can place your subject in a window, door or hallway to help your viewer focus on them better.
You can also try trees and other natural elements. These create asymmetrical frames that add dimension to your image.