3 Techniques to Improve Your Photo Compositions

Composition can make or break a photograph. Here’s a 7-minute video by photographer Peter McKinnon in which he runs through three tips to help you improve the composition of your photographs.

McKinnon shares his tips with a focus on outdoor portraits, demonstrating how he would use architecture and other environmental elements to compose his images.

Tip #1: Look for Environmental Elements

The first tip is to always look for those environmental elements to help frame your subject. Instead of taking a straight-on shot of your subject without considering the foreground or background, try looking for architecture or other elements that can help create leading lines or add depth to the image. This helps create some added interest, and can make your subject pop if used effectively.

Tip #2: Experiment with Perspective

McKinnon’s next tip is to experiment with perspective. Taking your shot from above or from a lower vantage point can reveal elements of the environment that would not be visible from eye-level. McKinnon uses the example of a portrait shot in the midday sun where he climbed up on a ledge to shoot from above. This gave a unique perspective that included the subject’s shadow and the tiling on the ground as a background element.

Tip #3: Get Creative with Light

The final tip is to utilize light in creative ways. Shadow will help create even light, whilst direct light will create harsher shadows and hotspots. Look for interesting patterns in light and the shadows caused by environmental elements, and use these to frame or interact with your subject.