Crafting photographs

Photographic Composition

4 Lessons Easy

About this course

Without a frame, there is no painting, there is no photography. Without composition, what you allow into that frame is just a random collection of visual stimuli that do not contribute to any form of meaning or emotion. Composition is the key to the eyes through visual strength, to the heart through emotion and to the mind through meaning. Ignore composition at your own risk.

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Course Structure

Common lies of photographic composition

A great number of tutorials about composition populate the interwebs. Here's why you should ignore most of them/

Composition is ordering of visual energy

All forms of art create points of sensory energy, tension and resolution, alternate moments of peace with those of great turmoil, manipulate the spectator/listener's attention in predefined ways. Photographic composition is the positioning of points of visual energy throughout the frame in order to communicate a desired emotion or meaning to the viewer's mind.

You’ve been framed

The frame is the foundation of all composition. The nature and strength of borders in you image is the primary force bbehind the visual energy.

Why (photographic frame) format matters more than megapixels

Often, photographers use a format because that's what their camer shoots natively. What if that format cramps their style?

  • Sean says:

    Hi Pascal,
    By jove, you anarchist, I think you are onto something here, and I say this with all due respect, to you.

    I particularly like what you’ve said, being “… Understanding the frame and visual psychology are all we need to compose images that matter…” and this “… You can decide to apply them [rules], or deliberately (knowingly) break them, … according to the goal ​you set yourself​.​​​​​​..”

    If this refreshing advice doesn’t help rid oneself of the, at times, stifling yoke of ‘framing rules’ I dunno what will.

    I get the feeling some will need to learn how to unlearn, to be able to undo such constraints, prior to being liberated from the entrenched framing mantras.

    My sense on what your on about is to know that certain compositional rules but they’re not absolute and don’t carry the force of some law. They’re there, but it’s not necessary to feed them – move on; and use them as a point of departure to cultivate your own style, freed from the myopic constraints of compositional rules.

    Yes, you’ve certainly let a cat out of a bag. Maybe we should endeavour to photograph like a child, and use composition in an unencumbered way so that composition works on an individual level and context specific to the image being crafted – not to some generic compositional mantra.


  • Pen