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The Fundamentals of Composition

ARTIST'S CORNER, AskBC Podcast, photography

How studying and practicing the fundamentals of composition can turn a boring image into a dynamic one, basic rules of composition (and when to break them), and some tips on achieving compositional balance.

Perfecting image composition is something that can take artists a lifetime to master.

It’s also a subject heavily reliant on individual taste. But while aesthetic preferences do come into play when composing an image, there are certain theories and “rules” every artist should be aware of in order to understand how their composition is succeeding or failing to draw viewers’ eyes.

Professional photographer Kevin O’Connor joins the podcast to talk about some of the most crucial fundamentals to composing strong images. Balance, tension, focus, and more.

These are lessons that can be learned today and practiced tonight. And while Kevin focuses on composition as it relates to photography, fine artists such as painters and illustrators will find plenty to learn here, too.

  • Defining “balance” as a compositional element
  • How to create balance or find it organically in your photos
  • The rule of thirds
  • Tips on creating more interesting compositions when shooting portraits
  • Create a triangle!
  • Locked elbows, locked knees, and bullseye vision
  • Creating dynamic tension with composition
  • Some examples of thinking outside the box to create tension
  • Thinking in quadrants
  • How to compose stock photography
  • The importance of critiques
  • Much more!

Listen in to learn about fundamentals of composition

 Show Notes

  • This episode featured a question from Roger.
  • Kevin mentions his article on the art of cropping, which can be read here.
  • Kevin has also written extensively on how to shoot sharper images.
  • Love the show? Have some feedback for us? Leave us a review on iTunes

Audio Transcription

Prefer to read over listen? Want to save this conversation for reference later? We transcribe all of our shows for these reasons! Download this episode’s transcription below:

Or, to view a web version of the transcript:

Thanks for listening! For more free episodes of #AskBC, check out the full archive!


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