Photography Composition: Creating Depth in Your Images
Composition
Photography Composition Series: Creating Depth in Your Images via Click it Up a Notch


Incorporating depth into images is something that I’ve fallen in love with lately. It is a great concept to utilize when creating images that tell a story.  When an image has depth, it almost feels as if you could step right into the picture.  Let’s talk about some ways that we can effectively incorporate depth into our images.

Focal Length

Wide angle lenses are my tool of choice for creating depth.  Telephoto lenses compress the background and we are left with beautiful creamy bokeh that can result in lovely portraits.  However, these longer lenses can leave us with a one dimensional feel to our subject.  Where a telephoto lens compresses the background, a wide angle lens will separate the background or the foreground from the subject while leaving those aspects of the image identifiable.  Wide angle lenses also create the perception that things closer to the lens are larger and this contributes to the feeling of depth that they give. My personal favorite wide angle lenses are the Nikon 28mm f/1.8g and the Sigma 35mm f/1.4.

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Elements of Interest & Focal Plane

Depth is best illustrated when your subjects or scene are not on the same focal plane.  Having elements in the foreground and background give the viewer room to explore and move their eye around the frame.

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Get up close

Getting closer to your subject is another great way to create depth in your images.  To illustrate this, consider the difference between my first and second images of the same subjects below.

Read more: How to use leading lines to create amazing photos
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Wide aperture

Photographing with a wide aperture is another way to incorporate the feeling of depth.  It is especially helpful when you have multiple elements in your scene and want to create depth between your subject and the foreground and background. How wide you set your aperture will depend on the subject(s) and your scene.  I’ve found that when I’m photographing from above my subject I need to stop down more than I would if I was photographing straight on.  Prime lenses are wonderful for this because there are so many choices that open up to f/1.4 – f/2.0 at the widest, versus zoom lenses that (generally speaking) open to f/2.8 – f/4.  If you want to see what photographing wide can do for your image, try photographing the same scene or subject at various apertures and see which appeals to you most.

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Work your angle

Laying on the ground to create depth in your foreground and photographing from above your subject are two ways that working your angle can contribute to the feeling of depth in your images.  Try mixing it up and utilize creative angles to obtain depth.

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Read more:
4 Unique Framing Photography Composition Ideas for Creative Photos
11 Photography Composition Rules to Know to Improve your Photography
Master Depth of Field with 4 Simple Tips
3 Ways Negative Space Will Enhance Your Photography

Elicia Graves

Elicia Graves – Guest Post
Elicia Graves is a Texas girl living in Berkeley, CA with her husband and two little girls. Her photography style is simple and earnest and she enjoys documenting her family in her free time. She tries to make it to the beach as often as possible, and is always on a mission to find the best ice cream in the Bay Area.
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8 Comments
  • October 25, 2013 at 5:22 PM

    I so love how you teach me and I understand so simply how to apply your tips. Ready for some exploring today. Thank you

  • October 25, 2013 at 5:39 PM

    What are your thoughts about putting a wide angle attachment lens (not sure what they are called) onto a prime lense? Is is the same affect?

    • May 8, 2014 at 11:37 AM

      Hey Shannon,
      I just saw this comment. Oops! I haven’t used any wide angle attachments personally. I don’t know if would be the same affect. If you aren’t sure if you want to invest in a wide angle lens you could always rent one :)

  • October 26, 2013 at 10:48 AM

    Thanks for that! I love trying to learn new things. Now it is pushing towards getting a prime lens. I’ll have to save up for that. But wow amazing images. I’m still contemplating a 85mm for my walking around lens.

  • Calien Laure
    November 11, 2013 at 4:14 PM

    Great shots. Love the one with the bubbles. You can see/feel yourself stepping into it. Certainly made me smile!

  • Tessa
    May 7, 2014 at 9:26 PM

    This was really helpful! How do you get such rich black and white photographs? These are beautiful!!

  • Hugh Jass
    November 19, 2015 at 6:19 AM

    Love it. However, if someone can

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