Day 5: Do the Compositional Dance with Your Next Food Photo – 31 Days of Food Photography Tips

Do the Dance BhangraDo the Dance

You may have the best camera and the best lens and the coolest post processing tools, but the art of photography comes down to just one word – composition. In this post, we look at composition and share recommendations on doing the compositional dance.

Art of Composition

The art of composition relates to arranging the graphical elements in such a way that the resulting image expresses what you as a photographer want to communicate. This includes the elements you want to include in the photo and some elements that you would like to exclude from the frame as well.

The process of composition should start only after you have asked and answered the most important question. If you start composing the photograph before answering this question, in most instances you would go no where with the photo. Once in a while you will get lucky.

While composition includes everything from the right light that creates the mood to the camera angle that tells a story, let’s only focus on three ways you can compose a photograph:

  1. Framing the photo
  2. Subject Placement
  3. Your Choice of Three Elements of Exposure Triangle

Once you’ve answered the question, decide what your image should look like. Should it be in a horizontal frame? or should it be a vertical frame? Perhaps a slightly tilted frame?

Should you zoom in or zoom out? Should you follow the 1/3 rule and place you subject on the golden corners? Or should you center the subject?

Do the Dance

When you are starting in photography, take lot of photos to answer these question and see what makes most sense. Take a shot with horizontal frame. Now change the frame to vertical and take another shot. Zoom in take a shot. Zoom out.

Do this compositional dance by changing one element at a time, taking a photo and quickly reviewing it and change the composition. Pick another element do the same.

The more you dance in early days, the better you will be able to “see” like your camera and you would have to dance less.

Laurie Excell et. al. talk a great deal about doing the compositional dance in their book Composition – From Snapshot to Great Shots. Another amazing book on composition in Michael Freeman’s The Photographer’s Eye. This book has lot of ideas on how to “see” like a photographer.

As we talked earlier in this post, learning to beautifully compose a photo is the most important aspect of creating photographs that move the viewer. At the same time, learning to compose a photo is vast subject, below are some suggested reading that will help you to create better food photos.

Suggested Reading:

Your Assignment:

For today’s assignment, you already must have guessed what you have to do. No? Pick a subject and do the dance.

Remember it all starts with that one question.

Happy Dancing.

Photo by Dey

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