This blog post is part 4 of our 5 part blog mini series which was part of our oversubscribed,  free online Autumn Photography Bootcamp which just finished its run. Over 5 days we taught a group of novice and experienced photographers how to make the most of the autumn colours and sights and how to use them when photographing their families. Sorry you missed it but you can still benefit from the advice and lessons in this series. And if you don’t want to miss our next free bootcamp – the Photographing Christmas bootcamp – enter your details below.

Lesson 4  is building up on some of the elements we introduced in the last few lessons, but takes it a bit further into composition. Composition is such a vast subject, we could write about it every day for a month and we’d only just scratch the surface, but the elements which we’re going to introduce to you today should be helpful in both showing off the beauty of autumn but also making your images stronger.

The two elements of composition I’d like to show you today are both about drawing the eye to your subject, highlighting them and making them the star of the show, they just do it in slightly different ways.

1. Leading Lines

Our brains are very complex, but at the same time, we like simplicity, we like to be shown where to look and get there straight away. We like to be ‘visually’ taken by the hand and led to the subject. This is where using lines or linear elements which already occur in nature comes into play. Because if there is a line in your image – and it doesn’t need to be a straight line, or even a particularly well defined line – our eyes will sure follow it.

This is to your advantage, because if you can KNOW that the viewer’s eye will be following a line, all you need to do is make sure your subject is right at the end of it and that’s you done!

The lines that are easily identifiable and that you can take advantage of straight away are things which are all around you anyway – paths, roads, pavements, curbs. But also, if you position yourself more to the side and let the camera’s shooting angle follow the edge – fences, stairs, even edges of furniture.

One important thing – the lines need to lead to your subject. It means, the eye needs to follow the line first and THEN encounter your subject. If you plonk your child at the opening of a path, with the path visibly moving past them, the impact will be completely lost. They need to actually LEAD to them.

Try to take advantage of how perspective and the optics of your camera treat parallel lines too – the further they go, the more they converge, further strengthening the effect.


2. Frame within the frame

The second compositional element is creating a ‘frame’ within your image which surrounds your subject, acting a bit in the same way that making a circle with a highlighter around a word makes us look right at it. And I don’t mean a ‘frame-frame’ like you sometimes see at the weddings where people peek through a decorative picture frame as the photographer takes their photo. I mean finding elements in nature which can create a full or partial frame around your subject and make them really stand out.

Those frames can come in many shapes and sizes.  Look out for more than just physical shapes and formations – light, colour and texture can play the same way!

Check out the examples below – they should give you a good idea of what to look out for.


Over to you

For today’s challenge try to capture some images which include Leading lines AND / OR natural frames to highlight your subjects.

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more from this mini series: