Practical Tips to Enhance Your Photography Composition Skills
Written by  Daisie Team
Published on 11 min read


1. Understand Basic Rules

2. Experiment with Angles

3. Frame within a Frame

4. Play with Light

5. Utilize Negative Space

6. Practice and Review

Upgrading your photography skills can be a rewarding journey, and one of the most significant aspects to focus on is composition. In this blog, we'll cover practical tips on how to improve your composition in photography, making your photos more captivating and visually appealing.

1. Understand Basic Rules

Before diving into more advanced techniques, it's essential to grasp some basic composition rules. These guidelines will give you a solid foundation to build upon in your photography journey.

Rule of Thirds

The Rule of Thirds is a fundamental principle that involves dividing your frame into nine equal parts by using two equally spaced horizontal lines and two equally spaced vertical lines. The idea is to place your subject or points of interest along these lines or at the intersections, which creates a more balanced and engaging image. To practice this technique:

  • Turn on the grid feature in your camera or smartphone settings.
  • Position your subject along the lines or at the intersections of the grid.
  • Experiment with different subjects and scenes to get a feel for the rule.

Golden Ratio

The Golden Ratio, often represented by the Greek letter φ (phi), is a mathematical concept that can be applied to photography composition. It's approximately equal to 1.618, and it's believed to create aesthetically pleasing proportions. To apply the Golden Ratio in your photos:

  • Use a Golden Spiral overlay, which is based on the Golden Ratio, in your editing software.
  • Position your subject or points of interest along the spiral's curve.
  • Take note of how the Golden Ratio can lead the viewer's eye through the image.

Leading Lines

Leading lines are lines within your frame that guide the viewer's eye to a specific point of interest. These lines can be straight, diagonal, or curved, and they can be natural or man-made. Utilizing leading lines in your compositions can make your photos more dynamic and engaging. Here's how to incorporate them:

  • Look for lines in your environment, such as roads, fences, rivers, or architectural elements.
  • Compose your shot so that the lines lead the viewer's eye towards your subject or a focal point.
  • Experiment with different types of lines and angles to create unique compositions.

2. Experiment with Angles

Now that you've grasped the basic composition rules, let's explore how different angles can bring a fresh perspective to your photos. Changing the camera angle allows you to capture unique viewpoints, making your photos stand out. This section will provide tips on how to improve your composition in photography by experimenting with three common angles: low, high, and eye level.

Low Angle

A low angle shot is taken from a position below your subject, looking upwards. This angle can make your subject appear larger, more imposing, or more powerful. It also helps reveal interesting details that might otherwise be missed. To make the most of low angle shots:

  • Get down low, even lying on the ground if necessary, to capture the desired perspective.
  • Use a wide-angle lens to emphasize the sense of depth and space.
  • Try incorporating leading lines or other compositional elements to guide the viewer's eye.

High Angle

High angle shots are taken from above the subject, looking downwards. This angle can give an overall view of a scene, create a sense of distance, or make the subject appear smaller and less significant. High angle compositions can be particularly effective in landscape or cityscape photography. To capture high angle shots:

  • Find an elevated position, such as a hill, building, or even use a drone for aerial views.
  • Consider using a telephoto lens to compress the scene and bring distant elements closer together.
  • Look for patterns, textures, and repetition in the scene to create a visually engaging image.

Eye Level

Eye level shots are taken from the same height as your subject, creating a neutral perspective. This angle is especially effective for portraits and wildlife photography, as it helps establish a connection between the subject and the viewer. Here's how to utilize eye level angles effectively:

  • Position yourself at the same height as your subject, which may involve sitting, kneeling, or using a tripod.
  • For portraits, focus on the subject's eyes to create a strong emotional connection.
  • Experiment with different focal lengths and depths of field to emphasize or isolate your subject within the frame.

By trying out these angles in your photography, you'll discover new ways to showcase your subjects and create more compelling images. Remember, there's no one-size-fits-all approach, so don't be afraid to mix and match these techniques to find the perfect angle for each shot.

3. Frame within a Frame

As you continue to explore how to improve your composition in photography, it's time to introduce the concept of a frame within a frame. This technique involves using elements within the scene to create a "frame" around your subject, drawing the viewer's attention and adding depth to your photos. In this section, we'll cover three types of frames you can use to achieve this effect: natural frames, architectural frames, and props.

Natural Frames

Natural frames are elements found in nature that can be used to surround and highlight your subject. Examples include tree branches, rock formations, or even a rainbow. To make the most of natural frames, consider the following tips:

  • Look for elements in the scene that can form a complete or partial frame around your subject.
  • Be mindful of the light and how it interacts with both the frame and your subject—this can create a more dynamic image.
  • Remember that natural frames don't need to be perfectly symmetrical; sometimes, an asymmetrical frame can make your photo even more interesting.

Using natural frames not only adds visual interest but can also help tell a story about the environment in which the photo was taken.

Architectural Frames

Architectural frames are man-made structures that can be used to frame your subject. These can include doorways, windows, arches, or even bridges. To effectively use architectural frames, keep the following advice in mind:

  • Pay attention to lines and shapes within the architecture, as they can help guide the viewer's eye toward your subject.
  • Experiment with different angles to capture the architectural frame in a unique and interesting way.
  • Consider the contrast between the architectural frame and your subject—using a modern building to frame a historical subject, for example, can create an engaging juxtaposition.

By incorporating architectural frames, you can add context to your photos, showcasing the relationship between your subject and their surroundings.

Using Props

Props are objects that can be intentionally placed within the scene to create a frame around your subject. These can include items like mirrors, picture frames, or even a pair of hands. To effectively use props as frames, try these tips:

  • Choose a prop that complements your subject and adds meaning to the photo.
  • Ensure the prop doesn't distract from your subject; it should enhance the image, not take away from it.
  • Experiment with the placement of the prop within the frame to see which position best highlights your subject.

Using props as frames can add an element of creativity to your photos, encouraging the viewer to take a closer look at the scene you've captured.

Incorporating the frame within a frame technique into your photography will help you create more visually engaging images that draw the viewer's attention to your subject. By experimenting with natural frames, architectural frames, and props, you'll discover new ways to showcase your subjects and improve your composition skills.

4. Play with Light

Now that you've learned about framing your subjects, let's move on to another important aspect of improving your composition in photography: playing with light. Light can dramatically change the mood and overall impact of your photos. In this section, we'll discuss the golden hour, backlighting, and shadows and contrast to help you understand how to improve your composition in photography through the creative use of light.

Golden Hour

The golden hour is the period shortly after sunrise or before sunset when the sun casts a warm, soft light that can give your photos a magical glow. To make the most of the golden hour, consider these tips:

  • Plan your shoot during this time to take advantage of the ideal lighting conditions.
  • Experiment with different subjects, as the golden hour can create stunning portraits, landscapes, and even still life images.
  • Be prepared to work quickly, as the golden hour doesn't last long—usually around an hour, depending on your location and the time of year.

By utilizing the golden hour, you can create captivating images with a warm, dreamy atmosphere that's difficult to achieve at other times of the day.


Backlighting is a technique where your light source is positioned behind your subject, creating a beautiful glow around the edges of the subject and adding depth to your images. To master backlighting, try the following approaches:

  • Choose a strong light source, such as the sun or a bright artificial light, to create a striking silhouette effect.
  • Position your subject carefully to ensure the light is coming from directly behind them.
  • Use exposure compensation on your camera to control the amount of light entering the lens, preventing the subject from becoming too dark or washed out.

Backlighting can produce dramatic and visually striking images, showcasing your subject in a new and exciting way.

Shadows and Contrast

Playing with shadows and contrast is another technique you can use to enhance your photography composition skills. Shadows can add depth, texture, and visual interest to your images. To make the most of shadows and contrast, keep these tips in mind:

  • Look for interesting patterns created by shadows, such as tree branches or window blinds, and incorporate them into your composition.
  • Experiment with side lighting to emphasize texture and create a sense of depth in your images.
  • Use contrast to highlight your subject by placing them against a contrasting background—this can be especially effective in black and white photography.

By incorporating shadows and contrast into your images, you'll add a new dimension to your photos and further improve your composition in photography.

As you can see, light plays a significant role in how to improve your composition in photography. By experimenting with the golden hour, backlighting, and shadows and contrast, you'll be able to create more dynamic and visually interesting images that truly capture the attention of your viewers.

5. Utilize Negative Space

Now that we've explored the role of light in improving your composition in photography, let's take a look at another powerful technique: utilizing negative space. Negative space is the empty area around your subject, and when used effectively, it can help you create striking, minimalist compositions. In this section, we'll discuss minimalism, balance and symmetry, and juxtaposition to help you understand how to improve your composition in photography by incorporating negative space.


Minimalism is all about simplifying your compositions and focusing on what's truly important. By using negative space to emphasize your subject, you can create a sense of calm and tranquility in your images. Here are some tips to help you embrace minimalism in your photography:

  • Choose a simple subject that can stand on its own without the need for additional elements.
  • Eliminate distractions by keeping the background clean and uncluttered.
  • Be intentional with your use of color, focusing on a limited palette that complements your subject.

By adopting a minimalist approach, you'll create images that convey your message clearly and powerfully, allowing your viewers to connect with your subject on a deeper level.

Balance and Symmetry

Balance and symmetry are important aspects of composition that can help you create visually appealing images. They involve arranging elements in your frame to achieve a sense of harmony and equilibrium. To improve your composition in photography using balance and symmetry, consider the following tips:

  • Create a focal point by placing your subject in a prominent position within the negative space.
  • Use symmetry to create a sense of order and harmony in your images, either through mirroring elements or by repeating patterns.
  • Experiment with asymmetrical balance by placing your subject off-center and using negative space to create visual weight on the opposite side of the frame.

By incorporating balance and symmetry into your compositions, you can create images that are both visually pleasing and engaging for your viewers.


Juxtaposition is the art of placing two contrasting elements side by side to create an interesting and unexpected visual effect. This technique can be especially effective when combined with negative space. Here's how you can use juxtaposition to improve your composition in photography:

  • Identify contrasting elements—such as colors, textures, or shapes—that can be placed next to each other in your composition.
  • Use negative space to isolate the contrasting elements, drawing attention to their differences.
  • Tell a story through your juxtaposition, using the contrasting elements to convey a specific message or emotion.

By incorporating juxtaposition and negative space into your compositions, you'll create images that are both visually intriguing and thought-provoking, ultimately helping you improve your composition in photography.

In conclusion, utilizing negative space is an effective way to enhance your photography compositions, whether through minimalism, balance and symmetry, or juxtaposition. By incorporating these techniques into your work, you'll create images that not only capture your viewers' attention but also leave a lasting impression. Remember, learning how to improve your composition in photography is an ongoing process, so keep experimenting and refining your skills to create truly captivating images.

6. Practice and Review

As we've covered various techniques on how to improve your composition in photography, it's essential to remember that practice and review are the keys to honing your skills. In this section, we'll discuss analyzing your work, seeking feedback, and learning from others to ensure that you're continually growing and refining your photography skills.

Analyze Your Work

Developing a critical eye for your own photography is an invaluable skill that will help you improve over time. To analyze your work effectively, consider the following strategies:

  • Take a step back and give yourself some time before reviewing your images. This allows you to approach your work with fresh eyes and a more objective perspective.
  • Examine composition elements—such as the use of negative space, balance, and juxtaposition—to determine if they're working well in your images.
  • Reflect on your intentions for each photograph, and ask yourself whether you've successfully conveyed the message or emotion you intended.

By regularly analyzing your work, you'll become more aware of your strengths and weaknesses, helping you refine your techniques and improve your composition in photography.

Seek Feedback

While self-analysis is important, seeking feedback from others can provide valuable insights and fresh perspectives on your work. To make the most of external feedback, consider these tips:

  • Share your work with fellow photographers, friends, or family members who can offer constructive criticism and support.
  • Be open to critique and remember that feedback is an opportunity for growth, rather than a personal attack on your abilities.
  • Ask specific questions about your images to encourage more detailed and helpful feedback, such as "How does this composition make you feel?" or "What could I change to convey a stronger message?"

By seeking feedback from others, you'll gain fresh perspectives on your work and uncover new ways to improve your composition in photography.

Learn from Others

One of the best ways to grow as a photographer is to learn from others who have mastered the art of composition. Here are some suggestions to help you expand your knowledge and draw inspiration from fellow photographers:

  • Study the work of renowned photographers to understand how they use composition techniques to create powerful images. You can find their work in photography books, galleries, or online portfolios.
  • Join photography groups or forums where you can discuss composition techniques, share your work, and learn from the experiences of others.
  • Attend workshops or classes to learn new techniques and receive guidance from experienced photographers.

By learning from others, you'll expose yourself to new ideas and approaches that will help you continually improve your composition in photography.

In conclusion, the journey to mastering composition in photography is an ongoing process that requires practice, self-analysis, seeking feedback, and learning from others. By implementing the techniques discussed in this blog and dedicating time to honing your skills, you'll be well on your way to creating stunning, captivating images that stand out from the crowd. So, grab your camera and start experimenting—there's no better time than now to learn how to improve your composition in photography!

If you're looking to further improve your photography composition skills, especially in portrait photography, don't miss the workshop 'Demystifying Portrait Photography' by Cyn Lagos. This workshop will provide you with valuable insights and techniques to elevate your portrait photography game and create stunning, captivating images.