Composition and Perspective Photo Tips

By Apr 3, 2011October 25th, 2014110 Comments

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I’ve seen photographs taken with great cameras. They have fabulous colors, perfect exposure and maybe even amazing lighting. But they look ordinary. Why? They lack two big elements: composition and perspective.

These are two of the easiest photo tips you can implement using only your creativity and your eyes. No fancy cameras or technical know-how required!

Photography Tips: A Complete Guide To Composition And Perspective | Learn how to take better pictures by setting up the shot with interesting composition.

Photo Composition and Perspective

To compose {or frame} your shot, you need to look through your viewfinder to see what your camera sees. Then you deliberately place your subject somewhere in the shot. It takes more thought than snapping the picture. While there are many composition rules (all of which may be broken), there is one rule that doesn’t take a huge amount of thought or planning.

Rule of Thirds

Rule of Thirds
Photo Credit: Digital Photography School.
If you’re into art, you may have heard of The Rule of Thirds. Here is how it works: cut the canvas into thirds diagonally and horizontally. The intersecting sections are the “sweet spots” and ideally your subject will fall in or near one of the four intersections. Your goal is to place your subject in one of the red intersections.

rule of thirds

I took this photo of my kids playing in the backyard with my first generation iPhone (aka not the best camera known to man). My older son was balancing himself on the slide and I carefully lined up my shot to try to get him in the upper left-hand “sweet spot”.

(The rest of the photo was to be empty space, but my younger son ran into the frame as I was taking the picture. It was a happy accident because it gave the shot a counterpoint and balanced it out a bit.)

No doubt, even without the happy accident, this shot is more interesting than if I’d placed him squarely in the center of the photo. While a centered subject can make an interesting photo, it’s usually best to avoid the straight-on centered snapshots.


If you want your photographs to go beyond just a snapshot, make them tell a story. How can you tell a story? By assuming a different character. In order to do that with your photography, you need to change your perspective.

Here are a few tips and examples of ways you can change your everyday perspective of the subject.

Tip 1: Get Down Low
If you’re taking pictures of flowers, pets, children or anything else that is low to the ground, get low to the ground. The world looks different when you’re sitting, kneeling or on your belly.

Tip 2: Look Up
If you’re photographing something tall, instead of standing back and trying to get it all in the shot, why not get close and look up?

Tip 3: From the Side
This is one of my favorite techniques, especially when repetition is involved. Instead of a head-on snapshot, position yourself to the side of the subject, get close in and shoot.

Tip 4: Look Down
The opposite of looking up at something? Look straight down. This is an excellent way to tell the story from your point of view. Alternatively, try grabbing a chair or ladder and telling the story from a bird’s eye view.

Tip 5: Think, Then Click
Use your creativity to construct your photograph. Don’t just click away. If you have the time, take a moment to artistically frame your subject. Figure out what perspective would be best. Only then, click. Click again and again and test out different compositions and perspectives.

Practice by photographing every day objects from a new and unique perspective. The more you practice, the quicker you’ll be able to make these decisions when you only have a few seconds to get it right.

Photography Challenge

Photograph a subject using a variety of compositions and perspectives. (Don’t move it. Move yourself.) Take at least 20 photos, more is fine. This may sound like a lot, but once you start framing and clicking you’ll see it isn’t. You should be able to complete this challenge within 5-30 minutes.