8 Tips for Creatively Composing a Photo Series
8 Tips for Creatively Composing a Photo Series

One of the first pieces of advice I was given when I started diving into the world of photography proved to be one of the most valuable. MOVE. Take your scene and really look at it. Don’t just shoot from where you initially approached it, but try looking at it from at least FIVE unique perspectives. Doing this causes the story to change and evolve right in front of you. So that’s exactly what we’ll be looking at today. How to put together a story board with a simple scene and nothing more than a change of perspective.

Great ideas for adding variety into a photo series! Read - "8 Tips for Creatively Composing a Photo Series"

Read more: 5 Tips for Shooting with Composition in Mind

We had just spent nearly a week inside due to what seemed like endless rainstorms and my kids needed OUT. Who am I kidding?!? So did I! We met up with some friends at a big grassy meadow and let the kids get out that pent up energy for a few hours prior to sunset. Most of the kids were running wild but my youngest stuck nearby, so she inevitably became my model.

These were all shot with my Nikon D600. I started out by shooting with my 85mm f/1.8 and eventually changed over to my 35mm f/1.4 lens. I personally favor primes, not only for their low aperture ranges, but because I have to act as the zoom and I naturally change things up when I’m using them. I find I get lazy and have to remind myself to move around more often when I have a zoom lens in hand. All these images were taken in the same location, within a matter of minutes of one another. So, let’s look at how perspective changes the story…

  • No.
    Stand Back and Get Low

    By standing further back from my subject I naturally created a sense of scale. She appears very small in this big world around her. And by positioning myself lower to the ground, I was able to create some depth in the road that led up to her.

    Settings: 85mm f/4.0 ISO 200 1/4000sec

  • No.
    Get Level

    Get on your subject’s level. Take in a bit of their surroundings. See how they’re interacting with their environment.

    This was one of those “in-between” shots where I caught her fussing with the grass on her leg. And I just love it.

    Settings: 85mm f/2.8 ISO 200 1/2500sec

    She had skipped her nap and was getting tired. This rock was the perfect place to stop and rest for a bit.

    Settings: 35mm f/8.0 ISO 100 1/500sec

  • No.
    Capture the Details

    Don’t be afraid to get in close. Those extra little details help tell the story too.

    Like this little bow and lace trim on her dress.

    Settings: 85mm f/2.8 ISO 200 1/2500 sec

    Her hair is FINALLY long enough to put in pigtails. That is one of the little things that I don’t want to forget. And I just love how the flow of the grass mimics her messy hair.

    Settings: 35mm f/2.0 ISO 100 1/2500 sec

  • No.
    Shoot From Above

    This is one of my favorite ways to shoot. Especially with my kids. It’s how I see them the most often (except my son, who is rapidly approaching my height. Eek!). It’s a great way to get a new take on the situation.

    When my daughter set her bunny down on the rock it didn’t seem intriguing from our eye to eye vantage point. But when I climbed on the rock with her and shot down I saw it in a new light. I actually love this image for the natural juxtapositions that took place. The difference in textures between the rock and fur.

    The feminine vs masculine feel with the edge of the dress and soft stuffed animal and the rugged wilderness. It just works. And I would have missed it entirely had I not climbed up there with her.

    Settings: 35mm f/2.0 ISO 100 1/2500sec

  • No.
    Step Back a Bit

    Yes, I stepped back again, but this time I went about it with my wide angle. I wasn’t as far from her as I was with my 85mm and was really able to capture the dynamics of the scene. It still lends perspective in regards to her scale in the world. However, shooting from my natural vantage point keeps her below the horizon makes her feel part of it all, rather than as an outsider entering the scene herself.

    Settings: 35mm ISO 100 f/2.5 1/1600sec

  • No.
    Get in Close

    There’s a reason it’s called up close and personal. Especially when you use a wide angle, you’re doing exactly that. Getting in their personal space- just a bit. I find this type of shooting lends to more emotionally charged images, like this one of my daughter, who started laughing when I entered her space.

    Settings: 35mm ISO 100 f/2.0 1/1250sec

  • No.
    Shoot from Behind

    This vantage point is a fun one. Not only does it provide some natural depth, I find it takes the image into more of a story telling mode. It feels personal because you’re entering the scene through your subject’s perspective. You’re see the world through their eyes. Although I can’t see her face, I can imagine what her reaction might be, and that right there brings an image to life.

    Settings: 35mm ISO 100 f/2.0 1/1250sec

  • No.
    Try Something Unexpected

    Finally, when you’ve exhausted all your options, play. Use a new lens. Maybe a tilt shift or lensbaby. Or experiment with your prism or freelens a few shots. If you can get your hands on a drone that would be a great new way to take in your scene.

    On this shoot, I loved how the breeze was flowing through the grass and I wanted to bring that to life for my viewers. I took a handful of shots freelensing that evening and the added blur really enhanced that softness that I was trying to capture.

    Settings: 85mm ISO 200 1/4000sec

    Read more: Introduction to Free Lensing

I’m sure there are plenty of great ways I didn’t touch on. Isn’t that what makes photography so great? Can you think of something I missed that you love to use? Have a question I didn’t cover? Leave a comment! I would love to chat and learn some new things too!

Read more about composition:

Photography Composition: Getting Diversity in Your Compositions

5 Most Popular Ways to Compose Your Image

Storytelling Through Light, Emotion and Composition

  • Jess
    March 14, 2017 at 8:44 AM

    Awesome! Thanks for sharing. I love your use of light!! Any freelensing tips? I can’t seem to keep anything in focus :)

  • Oksana
    February 5, 2019 at 6:51 AM

    Thank you very much!

  • Debbie Stewart
    February 5, 2019 at 12:22 PM

    Love! I had never heard of freelensing!

  • Carrie
    February 6, 2019 at 10:01 AM

    Love these images and your content. This has sparked me to get out my camera more and more for every day adventures. Curious, was it a very bright day/field? How is your shutter speed so high, ISO low and your images clear but not underexposed? Thank you!

  • Zeev
    February 15, 2019 at 8:56 AM

    I’m curios about the post processing you have done with these photos

  • Hope Ward
    June 24, 2019 at 1:07 PM

    LOVE all of these great tips!!! Thank you for taking the time to teach us and share!!!

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