Once the exposure triangle & manual mode have 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.
Read more: 5 Tips for Shooting with Composition in Mind
Mistake #1: Placing Your 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, reflections, or rule of thirds. Don’t make this mistake!
Mistake #2: Chopping off your subjects limbs in the photo
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 with your photos.
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.
Mistake #3: Shooting with a 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.
Mistake #4: Standing too far away from your subject
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.
Mistake #5: Standing 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:
Mistake #6: Forgetting to add variety to your shots
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.
The line of pinestraw leads to her in this image.
Mistake #7: Having too many distractions in your photo
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.
Mistake #8: Photographing your subject so it looks like they are 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 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:
– 11 Photography Composition Rules to Know to Improve your Photography
– Photography Composition Series: Creating Balance & Symmetry
– Photography Composition Series: Creating Movement in Your Images