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8 Composition Mistakes to Avoid
Composition
8 Composition Mistakes to Avoid

Once shooting in manual has become second nature, focusing more on composition is time well spent. Keep reading to learn about some common composition mistakes for every beginner to avoid.

This is a great article to bookmark if you're just starting out in photography! Read - "8 Composition Mistakes to Avoid"

Read more: 5 Tips for Shooting with Composition in Mind

  • No.
    01
    Subject Front and Center

    A beginner mistake that will make any photo look like a snapshot is putting the subject in the smack center of the image. There are so many easy ways to make a photo more interesting, like framing, leading lines, or rule of thirds. Don’t make this mistake!

    Don’t: 

    Do:

  • No.
    02
    Limb Chops

    Limb chops occur when you are a bit too close and not really planning out the composition of the shot. Back up and shoot with intention. Think about what type of image you need to tell the story. Is it a detail, or setting the scene? Look at the limbs and try not to crop at a joint. Also keep an eye on shadows and keeping a bit of space around your subject.

    Don’t:

    Do:

     

  • No.
    03
    Tilted Horizon

    While this can be an easy fix in post processing, you can crop off important details of the image by not keeping an eye on the horizon. Sometimes it is even helpful to turn on the level tool inside the camera to help with horizons that aren’t horizontal.Composition Don'ts

  • No.
    04
    Too Far Away

    I don’t know how many times as a beginner I heard to step in closer! I’m a prime lens lover, so I do need to actually move my feet to get the shot sometimes. An image shot from too far away can sometimes confuse the view as to what is most important in the frame. Try a few different shots from different distances to decide which composition is best.

    Composition Don'ts

  • No.
    05
    Too Close

    I know! I know! I just said to take a step forward. But not too close! Give your subject a bit of room to breath in the image.

    Don’t:  

    Do:

    Composition Mistakes

  • No.
    06
    No Variety

    Don’t get stuck in a rule of thirds rut. Add variety to your images by switching it up a bit! Rule of thirds is a great fall back, but a whole portfolio will look boring. Add in lines, framing, triangles, spirals, different perspectives, there are really endless ways to se the world!

    In this image, the bench acts as a frame for our sweet boxer.

    Composition Don'ts

    The line of pinestraw leads to her in this image.

  • No.
    07
    Distractions

    Take credit for everything in the frame. Now I don’t mean to clean up your entire room before taking a picture, lets still be real! But like in this image, the mess in the floor isn’t a part of our home on normal days (renovations! woohoo!) so moving it will only make my image stronger.

    Composition Don'ts

  • No.
    08
    Leaving the Frame

    As a viewer, its natural to want to see where the subject is looking or moving toward. Otherwise, the subject looks uncomfortable and awkward.

    Don’t:

    Do:

    Composition Mistakes

Don’t get too stuck on what you should and shouldn’t do with composition. Photography should be fun! But do take a look at the photos you feel are strong and think about what it is about the photo that really grabs you? A good composition will just feel right and have a natural flow that draws you in.

Read more about composition:

Photography Composition: Getting Diversity in Your Compositions

Photography Composition Series: Creating Balance & Symmetry

Photography Composition Series: Creating Movement in Your Images

6 Comments
  • Trish
    May 3, 2017 at 7:03 PM

    Sometimes “leaving the frame” is ok. I have a very talented son who has taken some great airplane photos; and in some of them the nose is cut off & you only see the tail end of the plane. It works because you get the sense that the airplane it going somewhere. (Sorry I don’t have any of his stuff to show you what I mean.)

    • Laurie
      May 3, 2017 at 7:47 PM

      A plane leaving the frame and showing what it’s left behind sounds like it fits the “rules”. In the example above one is left wondering what has the dog’s attention…if her tail end were leaving the frame and the aftermath of, say a torn up pillow or something were left behind, that would be a similar situation as the plane. Hope that makes sense. ☺️

  • Andrea
    May 12, 2017 at 6:31 PM

    Great tips, thank you! It’s nice to be reminded of these seemingly simple ideas!

    • Andrea
      May 12, 2017 at 6:32 PM

      Seemingly simple but so easy to forget. ☺️

  • Lloyd
    May 12, 2017 at 9:07 PM

    I take a lot of shots when I got home review my shots and boom chop limb.

    Thank you anyway. Great post!

  • JennyDeeDee
    May 14, 2017 at 7:02 PM

    Gorgeous shots, and wonderful advice. Thanks for sharing!

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