Culture: The Golden Rules of Photo Composition

With everyone on Instagram seeming to think that they’re the new David Bailey or Annie Liebovitz, there’s only one way of separating the wannabees from the will be’s – photo composition.

You may have created the perfect flatlay, but forgetting that the background is a mess has the potential to completely ruin your picture. Here are a few guidelines to help you create the very best images that are sure stand out from the crowd…

The golden rules of photo composition

Keep it simple

Unless you’re trying to capture a landscape, it’s useful to remember that you should choose the correct focal length for the camera and keep superfluous objects in the background of the shot.

One of the easiest ways to develop your skills is to learn from the professionals. You’ll be able to master the complexities of the Golden Rule ratio, including the Fibonacci spiral and the Rule of Thirds. Even though some of these theories have been distilled and are available to the mass market through photography apps, it’s still beneficial to learn the foundations of these key photographic techniques.

The golden rules of photo composition

Balance is important

If you place your subject off centre, you’ll have to compensate for any voids that you might have in your composition. Balance is important in photo composition if you want to ensure that your image doesn’t look off-kilter. The Rule of Thirds comes in useful here, but you don’t have to follow any theories too slavishly – after a while you’ll develop an instinct for what works and what doesn’t. A quick tip to keep the balance is to zoom in or move closer to the subject that you’re trying to capture. You’ll also be able to cut down on too many background distractions if you follow this simple guideline.

Hold your camera differently

You don’t always have to hold your camera horizontally. If the subject matter is more fitting for a portrait shot then experiment with the angle. It’s also always worth experimenting with focal lengths, remembering that you can always crop or edit a photograph to achieve the desired effect. Aspect ratio should also be taken into consideration, as the photograph that you take may not always be the right fit for your printing paper.

The golden rules of photo composition

Geometry and photography

Straight lines, whether vertical, horizontal or diagonal, all act as a guideline for both the photographer and the viewer. Wide angles will increase the perspective and also introduce diagonals into the composition. If you tilt the camera in order to achieve this effect you’ll soon introduce an element of uncertainty and drama into your composition.

Framing the scene

Nature produces its own frames, from trees around a lake to cliffs surrounding a beach – the list really is endless. When taking photographs, try to follow nature’s own guidelines, as this will help the eye to reach natural a focal point.


Experiment and play

The most important part is to just have fun. Digital photography has opened up a whole new world for anyone interested in photography and there are plenty of beginner’s courses to help you get started. It no longer costs a fortune to buy film and develop it, meaning that you can take many more photos and learn through experimenting.

Flush the Fashion

Editor of Flush the Fashion and Flush Magazine. I love music, art, film, travel, food, tech and cars. Basically, everything this site is about.