Re-Cap of Composition Photography Class

by simplylife on February 19, 2012

I’ve been writing this blog for close to three years now (wow! how did this happen?).  In three years I have never written a photography post, other than when I got my new (lifesaving!) Lowel EGO light.

Do you want to know why?  I don’t have a DSLR camera and daily see pictures on other blogs that are far better than mine.  It seems I should be letting these posts go to the pros.

But then I attended a composition photography class and decided that no matter how good (or bad) my photos are, I wanted to share with you what I’ve learned because I figured we can all learn together.  Plus, I realized that while I still have a long way to go, I’ve also come a long way since I first started taking pictures for this blog.

Why did I take a composition photography class?  Well, to be honest, the main reason was because  it’s the only class I’ve ever found that doesn’t require a DSLR camera.  I’m so glad I signed-up.  Before this class, I had taken one photography class in high school and loved it.  I still have the film SLR camera and just wish I could use that for the blog 🙂  The other students were as kind as could be, and one of the biggest things I learned is that is doesn’t require a DSLR camera to take good photos (although yes, that does help ;)).  It’s much more about what you can do with your camera than what you’re holding.

If you’re wondering, I use a Cannon PowerShot SX120IS for all my photos.  Although I would love a DSLR camera (anyone have one they want to send my way?) I am really happy with this camera.  It’s perfect for taking pictures of food as well as people and places, and it’s easy to carry around.

Picture source

The class had three sessions and we focused on several composition photography “rules.”  I actually see them less of “rules” and more of “helpful guidelines” when composing your shot.  You can use one, all, or none in your photos to produce an amazing shot.  While we went through several “rules,” here are the ones that really stood out to me:

1.  Rule of Thirds – I have a feeling if you’ve ever taken a photography class or researched it online, you’ve come across this one.  Basically it means that if you divide your photo into 9 equal sections your eye naturally falls into where the intersections are; this is where you want your focus of the photo to be.

photo source

2.  Leading Lines – Use “lines” such as a path, ribbon or spoon to direct the viewers eye of where it should be looking.  This gives movement to the picture and can help to create a story or mood.

Chickpea Pot Pie with Gouda Biscuit Topping

3.  Repetition – Having a repeating pattern can be a very powerful way of drawing someone into a picture.

French Onion Soup Tartines

However, sometimes having one “break” from the pattern can also be a way of really making a shot interesting.

Whole Wheat Cherry Zucchini Muffins/Bread

While none of these are ground-breaking tips that are going to get all my photos accepted into Tastespotting, they have helped me to take an extra step when looking through my lens and I hope they help you too!

~What do you prefer taking pictures of (events, people, food, etc)?

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  • Yummychunklet

    I love being in photos, but I’m so picky about the way I look in them that I feel better taking photos of people and food myself. Ha!

  • Kristen@Change of Pace

    This is a great post. I’ve had people tell me I should take pictures for money but I’d never do it. I never want it to be a job. I love taking pictures of food and animals.

  • Jamie

    Thanks for sharing! Even if they are basic tips, I know that I appreciated being reminded of them!! I haven’t been putting all that much thought into the arrangement of my pictures lately. It’s tough enough to get decent lighting in my apartment!

    And I LOVE taking photos but I also like close ups of people!

  • Anonymous

    These are very good tips! I’ve heard of the rule of thirds but didn’t know what it was until now. Thanks!

  • Andrea@WellnessNotes

    Great tips!

    I love taking photos of people, especially the kid, who is growing up so quickly… 🙂

  • Melanie Flinn

    I think your photos are awesome! I do look forward to taking a real photograpy class one day. So much to learn! Thanks for sharing.

  • Liz @ Tip Top Shape

    Great post! And these pictures are beautiful! I like the end-product of food photography but usually end up getting pretty annoyed while I’m taking the pictures. I swear I have about five pictures for every half-way-decent one!

  • RebeccaSubbiah RD

    love these pictures your blog is great but will be awesome hugs

  • Colleen

    I am so impressed! 😉 I can tell the difference/improvement in your photos over time (and would love your blog regardless of the photos!). All your dishes always look super appetizing!

  • Kari

    This is a brilliant post 🙂 And I think your photos are beautiful!

  • Rebecca

    I like taking candid shots of people. I call it “paparazzing”!

  • Anonymous

    These are super-helpful tips. I hope at some point I can find time to take a photo class. I know there’s a lot I need to learn to get the most out of my camera.

  • Em (Wine and Butter)

    I live in a communal block in London where there is like NO light after midday & virtually none at all in winter. SO (much to my neighbours amusement) I sit on the steps leading down from our block, danlging tea towels over the stair rails, throwing forks all over the entrance, photgraphing lasagne. They TOTALLY think I am mental…

    • Simply Life

      Oh that just made me laugh out loud- love it! Well your pictures are always beautiful so it’s working! 🙂

  • Jessica

    Great tips, learning composition is definitely an important step towards becoming a better photographer.

  • Beth

    This is a really interesting post. I really don’t know anything about photography, and I have a very basic camera, but I know my photos are getting better compared to the first ones I posted!

  • Daisy

    great tips! i think your photos are gorgeous and you are right, its all about the camera you have. i used to have a canon point and shoot and i thought it took great pics. I upgraded to a canon dslr (T3) and love it! for me it was more about being “ready” to upgrade and having the $ to treat myself to a new present.

  • Jolene (

    I love taking pictures of anything and everything, people, food, scenery … I am a picture fanatic! Your photos are always great – No need for a DSLR!

  • camille

    I remember the rule of thirds from high school art classes – thanks for reminding me about it, it had entirely slipped my mind and of course it would help with photo composition as well as the composition of anything else (I was only thinking of it in terms of drawings or layouts, but why stop there?).

  • gliding calm

    wow! i know nothing about photography, so this was a really interesting post! Thanks!

  • Gina (Candid RD)

    I think your pictures always look really fantastic! I should take a photography class myself. I just got the new Nikon (the one Ashton Kutcher advertises) and I love it. Looking back at my blog posts from four years ago, I CRINGE with embarrassment. I didn’t know what I was doing, clearly.

  • Kristi

    AH! I just upgraded to a DSLR about a year ago, and believe it or not, although I bought the same camera body I had in film, it’s just NOT the same as the film version! I mean, I am so freaking in love with my camera it’s not funny (and I totally need to take a class to learn how to use it) but my film photos were almost always amazing. Maybe it’s because now I can take a bajillion frames and just delete the ones I’m not in love with, when with Film, each frame costs money… I don’t knnow. Great thoughts on composition. Lighting is only second to a good eye and you have some great skills.

  • Kiran @

    My friends shoots using films and he just refuses to upgrade to DSLR. Trust me, his photos are FABULOUS!!! I think its not the equipment, but how much does the user truly know how to capture moments must be measured 🙂

    I could never shoot in P&S with such remarkable results. Bravo, Gina 🙂

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