In the age of Instagram, it’s pretty easy to see that we’ve all caught photography fever. Even if you don’t know how to take a beautiful photograph yet, you certainly know how to appreciate one (AKA your double tapping muscles are V strong). To help you tap into the world of shooting your own stunning images, FedEx is sponsoring our Phone Photography Basics Online Class so you can take it for FREE through December 18, 2016! Scroll down to check out our six-step composition crash course for setting up the perfect overhead shot, and then head over to the free class for more tips on lighting, shooting and editing your pics like a pro.
1. RULE OF THIRDS
This is probably the most well-known composition rule, and for a good reason! When setting up your shot, imagine a 3×3 grid and place the dominant object (or the item that draws the most attention) near one of the intersection points or along the grid lines. In this case, we placed the flowers along the right vertical line. This will give your shot more balance and interest than if you were to put the dominant object directly in the center or too close to the edges.
2. LEADING LINES
Pull your viewer’s eye into the frame using imaginary or literal “leading” lines that run through your frame. In this shot, the handled cutting board provides a leading line, encouraging your eye to move in toward the center of the frame. The second cutting board and knife provide a second line that also draws your eye into the frame. Think those diagonals were accidental? Pssh, it’s aaall part of the plan.
3. GROUPS OF THREES
There’s just something about things in threes. These trusty trios give your eye enough to look at without being overwhelming, and can also create a circular motion within your frame (similar to the recycling symbol!), directing your eye around the image. In this shot, the FedEx packing box, bag and card create three clusters for your eye to work around, easy as 1-2-3.
4. NATURAL ELEMENT
Here’s a weird but highly useful tip — always try to add a natural element of some kind into your shot (plants, hands, food, etc.). EVEN if it wouldn’t naturally be there in real life (as in the case of this monstera leaf making its way into a style flat lay), having something that is or once was living really breathes life (get it?) into your image, making it feel less rigid than if everything pictured was man-made.
5. FILL THE FRAME
Don’t be afraid to get close to your subject and let some things extend off the edges. Cropping in on one primary object and letting the rest fall off the edge really helps to get the viewer to focus on what YOU want them to focus on (like this delicious pink citrus cocktail!). This technique also expertly hides the fact that you staged it in the first place! ;)
6. BREAK THE PATTERN
Our brains LOVE patterns and repetition, but we also love little unexpected breaks in those patterns! Why? IT’S PROVOCATIVE, IT GETS THE PEOPLE GOING. But seriously, it’s more interesting to see one element breaking the rules a little and standing out from the crowd. Give your image some life and mess it up a bit, like we did with this mascara swipe to the right of a pattern of neat and tidy compacts.
Now that you’ve had the 101 on composition, grab your phone and test it out (and maybe try breaking one or two of those rules ;). For a ton of super valuable tips on lighting, shooting and editing your pics, check out our FREE Phone Photography Basics Online Class through December 18, 2016.
Sponsored by FedEx.
Author + Styling: Lee Schellenberger
Photography: Brittany Griffin