Five Elements of Control: #5 Composition

You knew it had to come back to this, right?  I know, everyone is screaming by now “But Jason, you’ve talked about the Rule of Thirds until the cows literally came home!”  Truth be told though, most people think about compositional positioning with their subject matter.  While it’s true that subjects are ideally placed on a hot spot or along one of the gridlines in the ROT grid, but you can break the rules too, ya know!  I say, put anything you want on a grid spot.  Or don’t have a specific point of interest!  Make the subject of your photo the space – negative space, as previously mentioned, can be a powerful thing!

You can also think of the ROT grid for any point of interest, not just subject points of interest.  And, since we know that light (luminance, contrast, whatever your semantics prefer), geometry, color, and context can all be points of interest, then you can put any of these there and create visually grabbing photographs.

The greatest part of this exercise though, is that now we are looking at everything in a lot of new and creative ways.  I bet you are asking yourselves lots of questions now:  Does that light look good?  DO those colors complement each other?  What about that round  wheel in a square table – that could be interesting, right?  Keep on thinking and looking at the world around you from different angles and perspectives.  Sooner than you realize it (if not already), your eyes will dart all over the place looking at things and you might not even be conscious that you are doing it.

When we migrate these exercises from the front of our brain to the back of our brains, making them automatic to the point where we no longer need to even think about looking for things – we just do it, then believe it or not, the compositional perspective also becomes second nature.  You are already looking at how the light and colors on this corner of the room are really awesome contrasts to the darker shadows on the other side – and how cool is it that the funnel of light literally cuts through the darkness on that gridline?!

Some days you’ll have epiphanies, realizations, and great moments to capture, while others you may not see as many.  Rest assured though, once your brain and eyes are trained to look for it – you’ll see it everywhere you go.  So, take a look at the world around you – see what catches your eye – ask why if you like, but enjoy your moments, because these are the ones where you can really get creative with composition and take your photography to the next level!  Just remember the Five Elements of Control:


Have a great weekend everyone – this officially wraps up my first week-long thematic series of blog posts.  Hopefully you’ve found each one rewarding individually, and I would welcome any feedback, thoughts critiques, and comments, because this will likely become an eBook download.  I’ll expand on each element some more, and include even more photos as examples of each, along with detailed critiques and highlights to help show readers why certain ones work, and others don’t.

So please let me know your thought!   Who knows, feedback may get you a free copy of the eBook and a mention in the credits if you do!  Thanks too, for all the comments already throughout this week, with your comments and insights on both the written word and photographs.  We’ll be back to regular posting starting Monday!  Until then, Happy Shooting!

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3 comments for “Five Elements of Control: #5 Composition

  1. LSP
    October 6, 2009 at 4:40 am

    Nice series on the control elements.

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