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8 Common Composition Mistakes in Photography

Analysing your pictures on your computer and cropping them where necessary is a great way to get a feel for how to create more impactful images in-camera. Here are eight classic examples where the framing lets them down…

  1. AMPUTATED SUBJECT
    When it comes to portraits of people and animals, avoid cropping the shot directly across one of the subject’s joints. Instead, zoom in or out and frame the shot so the crop is just above or below these areas.

    Composition-Mistake-1 8 Common Composition Mistakes in Photography

  2. CRAMPED SUBJECT
    If the subject is touching the edge of the picture, it can look cramped. Cast your eye around the edge of the frame before pressing the shutter release and take a step back to give a little breathing room.

    Composition-Mistake-2 8 Common Composition Mistakes in Photography

  3. DEAD FOREGROUND
    The foreground can be used to draw the viewer into the picture. However, it’s important to get the balance right. In this shot there are plenty of ‘leading lines’ to pull you in, but it still feels rather empty.

    Composition-Mistake-3 8 Common Composition Mistakes in Photography

  4. BUSY FOREGROUND
    A busy foreground can stop a viewer from taking in the rest of the picture. This shot has such a messy patch at the bottom of the frame that it’s hard to see past it. It’s not a shot you’d want to hang on your wall.

    Composition-Mistake-4 8 Common Composition Mistakes in Photography

  5. BUSY BACKGROUND
    It’s easy to overlook a busy background while concentrating on the subject. A change in position or standing further away with a longer lens would have helped to separate the statue from the building here.

    Composition-Mistake-5 8 Common Composition Mistakes in Photography

  6. DISTRACTIONS
    Developing an awareness of potential distractions and doing something about them is important. Here, the bright reflection and large, pale rock being sliced in two are hard to ignore once you’ve spotted them.

    Composition-Mistake-6 8 Common Composition Mistakes in Photography

  7. SLOPING HORIZON
    A classic mistake, but these days a camera’s electronic levels make it easy to avoid at the time of shooting. You can also use the edges of the AF points in the viewfinder to keep the horizon plumb.

    Composition-Mistake-7 8 Common Composition Mistakes in Photography

  8. ACTIVE SPACE
    It’s better if the subject is looking into the frame rather than out of it. Leave more space in front of the subject than behind them, otherwise you’ll follow the subject’s gaze out of the picture…
    Composition-Mistake-8 8 Common Composition Mistakes in Photography

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