Talking about composition in photography without talking about the Elements and Principles of Design is like talking about breadmaking without discussing the ingredients that make up the dough – it limits the conversation to generalities and personal preferences.
So, what are the ingredients of composition I am talking about?
First, at the most basic level, we have the elements of design, which are your building blocks – you can think of them as the fundamental design blocks used to create a work of art. They are the simple and familiar terms from the everyday language used to describe elements such as (Shape, Space, Line, Texture, Light, and Colour.) When used to describe art, these elements often take on an expanded meaning beyond everyday usage.
Second, the principles of design. These are the how-tos on the organization of a piece of work. The aesthetic considerations for the general ways of organizing a work using (Repetition, Variety, Rhythm, Balance, Emphasis, Economy, and Proportion.)
Composition then is about how we use the Principles of Design to organize the Elements to best express the intent of our vision.
I am a strong believer in using a technical language correctly to describe better what we see. Not only does it allow us to discuss what we see in an image more accurately, it also helps us pinpoint specific techniques which in turn allows us to focus more deeply on the details that matter.
During the next few months, I am going to go take a closer look at the individual Principles and Elements of Design and discuss what they are and how we can make use of them to create stronger and more meaningful photographs.