A Concise Video Refresher of the Basic Rules of Composition

Composition and the rules that accompany it are some of the most basic aspects you learn when first picking up a camera. If you’ve been a photographer long, it’s probably safe to say that the “rule of thirds” and “golden mean” are ingrained into your brain so well that it’s second-nature now.

That being said, every once in a while it’s nice to take a fresh look at the rules and the underlying concepts behind them — if for no other reason than because you have to know the rules in order to break them properly.

That’s where this little video put together by photographer David Thorpe comes into play. While the production quality isn’t exactly top-notch, Thorpe manages to present age-old knowledge in a very simple, effective approach that will be particularly useful for beginners.


From color to perspective, the eight-minute video covers almost any basic rule of composition you can think of in a concise, elegant manner … not to mention that, as an American, almost anything sounds better with a British (or Aussie) accent.

So whether you’re a beginner visiting these concepts for the first time or an expert who has them well-in-hand, give the tutorial a watch and let us know what you found most useful in the comments down below.

(via Reddit)

  • Ben

    This is a great concise explanation of composition, but I’m sure a few Hasselblad users will disagree with his statement that “pictures in the square format seem to lack grace”

  • Ben

    Then again, what’s a Hasselblad user doing watching a video about the basics of composition? XD

  • Brian

    The Hassy is just a format… Doesn’t make the person a better photographer.

  • Irishhighviking

    I realize this is irrelevant, but where is the narrator’s accent from?

  • Alan Klughammer

    to be pedantic, modern Hasselblads use a rectangular sensor, The older film Hassy’s produced 6×6 square images on film, but many other cameras also produced square images.
    Personally I usually had to crop my square images into a rectangular print…

  • Alexa

    I’ve asked myself the same question, I loved the accent!

  • Photo tiger

    Somewhere in England – his YouTube about page says Surrey.

  • Daniel Lee

    A good summary of key principles in photographic composition, but his inclusion of color, exposure and perspective is questionable as these are not so much principles of composition as they are independent considerations in good photography, of which composition is one.

  • Irishhighviking

    I assumed he was a Limey but I haven’t heard that particular brand of the Queen’s English.

  • DSLR Video Studio

    Some really great tips and a comprehensive round up of the basics.

  • Stephen Hancock

    Thank you, I enjoyed this while downloading the images from yesterdays shoot. Very well done, great recommendations and not hard fast rules. A great way to enjoy the first coffee of the day.