Expert Level Portrait Tips Series Part 03: Angles and Composition

By using the rule of thirds, symmetry, balance, depth, and leading lines — you’ll be able to make anything look good.

Expert Level Portrait Tips Series Part 03: Angles and Composition
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Expert Level Portrait Tips Series

Angles and Composition

Greetings and welcome to Moment’s first ever article series debut. Featuring expert-level tips on creating stunning mobile portraiture (though, these rules can apply to any camera), we’ll dive deep on the ins and outs of what it means to capture a profile worth remembering. Through measures of unique posing, lighting, location ideas, and creative outlets for composition — we’ll dissect every detail it takes to compartmentalize the very component behind what makes excellent mobile photography. Let’s roll.

Shape Your Images With Unique Composition

Composition is one of the most important tools to use when perfecting a successful photo. It’s so important, in fact, that when not utilized your image will look off and unbalanced. By using the rule of thirds, symmetry, balance, depth, and leading lines — you’ll be able to make anything look good.

Upward angles provide an interesting perspective.

Follow The Rule of Thirds

The rule of thirds is a frequent tool to help improve photography. It's quite simple. To follow this rule, merely divide the frame into nine separate squares that are three horizontal and three vertical containers, as illustrated above. Many phone manufacturers have included this tool as a display in Live Mode, but can easily be adjusted if turned off. Check your phone's manual to see how to turn on this feature.

The idea of this rule is to place one or more of the essential subjects of your scene along the lines of intersection of the lines within your frame. Unless you want to mimic Wes Anderson's aesthetic of placing your item in the middle, placing it just off center will more often than not lead to a more attractive composition.

Matt's Big Breakfast.

Looking real sly.

Create Symmetrical Balance

For any viewer, an unbalanced photo can feel exactly that — unbalanced. If your overall goal for an image is to create something pleasing to the eye, you must achieve balance within your photograph. Much the same way you would play a game of Jenga, photography must be painted with the same level of symmetry to create a two-dimensional visual masterpiece successfully. To achieve this, try placing both subjects on either side of your imaginary middle line and experiment with where each is set.

A classic Girl Scouts sign, of course we had to take a picture by it.

Lead Those Lines

Leading lines are some of the most powerful yet underestimated techniques for photography. The photographer can use them to draw viewers' attention to a specific part of the photography, making a vanishing point in the background or foreground of the frame. Vertical, parallel, or diagonal streaks make a strong foundation for viewership, always remember this. They make us feel something the photo like we're apart of your scene.

Right in the middle of the frame, padding around him.

Polaroid shirts are a must.

Creating Depth

Creating a sense of depth in your photograph is essential to excellent composition techniques. A scene with a sense of perspective provides a much more exciting vibe and feel, something long-lasting and often ethereal. To create this, place a subject at medium to the far distance that can appear flat, especially if you have zoomed in all the way to fill the frame with the object. Crouching close to the floor than shooting at eye level will exaggerate the perspective as objects get smaller and move into the distance, proving a much deeper sense of depth.

Hold the phone...

Fun pose with another upwards angle.

Get Funky

I know, I know. Although I mentioned the attractiveness that is often associated with following the rule of thirds, try looking at such techniques as a starting point or guideline. There should be occasions where we want to break out of the traditional mold and try something a bit out of the ordinary. I highly encourage you to get creative and experimental with the aesthetics of your images.

Take stray branches and spread them across the frame, place rocks in the foreground while your human subject is in focus in the background, or disembodied hands floating in the bright blue sky. Be sure to be intentional, as undesired distraction leads to the viewer's eye leaving the frame. You don't want that!

Woah! Up close and personal.

Read Parts 01, 02, 04, 05.

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