Composition: Beyond the Basics

If you are no longer a beginner photographer, you will have heard about composition ideas such as the rule of thirds, using leading lines and having a single focal point. (If you haven’t, join Emma’s online beginner’s course at the end of this post - it’s free for a year by email.)

What about ideas like open vs closed images, using directional space and visual weight? Do you know how to critique your own images, guide the viewer’s eye through your shot and use colour effectively?

Emma’s intermediate-level online course, Composition: Beyond the Basics, is now open for registration and covers all these topics and more. It runs only once a year and is for photographers who have a good grasp of basic composition principles but want to start creating more interesting, compelling and eye-catching shots.

Click here for the full curriculum and more details about the course:

Excerpt: viewpoint

This is an excerpt from the first lesson, viewpoint:

“Grammatically speaking, viewpoint and point of view can generally be used interchangeably. But photographically I think there is a subtle difference. A viewpoint can be just a bench on cliff, but a point of view needs a person looking out across the ocean, bringing their life's experience to that moment.

As a photographer, the most intimate aspect of your photograph is your point of view. Your viewer steps into your shoes and looks at the world through your viewfinder. You have chosen to stand, sit, lie, perch or balance in that particular place so that your viewer can stand in your shoes, or balance precariously with you as you stretch to get the shot.

Don't squander your point of view. Think about what you want the viewer to experience. Think about how changing your viewpoint will change the point of view.

Once your photograph is out in the world, you have lost control of how any particular person feels when they look at it. You don't know what cultural background they bring with them, what they've already seen and done, what mood they're in, or how long they have to spend with your image. But that shouldn't stop you trying to stamp your style, your message or your own point of view on your image.”

The lessons have ideas to think about:

“Do you think the distinction between viewpoint and point of view is helpful? How much time do you normally spend trying out different viewpoints? What are your thoughts on images that force you to notice the viewpoint compared to ones where you don't notice (as a photographer, and as a viewer)?”

And there is a practical project with each lesson:

“Spend the day not shooting from adult head height.”

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Previous versions of this course have included individual feedback. Due to her current book writing commitments Emma cannot give feedback on this run-through and the price of the course has been reduced to reflect that. There will be a private Facebook group for discussion amongst students and questions for Emma.


Beginner’s Workshop: A Year With My Camera

Is “Beyond The Basics” too advanced for you? Do you want to get to grips with the actual basics themselves? My flagship online photography workshop is free by email and takes you right back to the beginning. Join here and get started today:

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Emma Davies