If you’re a regular visitor to the Shutterbug website, you know how we feel about the so-called rules of photography; namely, they’re often meant to be ignored. This is especially true when it comes to composition, as you’ll see in the eye-opening video below.
Most photographers are familiar with the Rule of Thirds, Symmetry, and the Golden Ratio, and these common guidelines are certainly a start. But breaking free of conventional “wisdom” that can stifle creativity often enables you to capture photos that are more personal and authentic. An added benefit is that by doing things differently you can create a style all your own.
Instructor Ian Worth is a professional landscape photographer based in Wales who frequently behind-the-scenes videos of his exploits while revealing powerful and often unconventional techniques. In this episode you’ll learn how he composes landscape photos for maximum impact—following unfamiliar rules of his own.
Worth is shooting an incredible sunset from an advantageous hilltop location, while disregarding rules you likely use all the time. He begins by presenting several photos he shot in the past and discusses the framing decisions he made for each. Later in the video he returns to his hilltop locations and puts these practices to work.
Keep in mind that the way you compose a scene is a very subjective matter, and your vision may differ from Worth’s. But his approach to the task is well worth watching and trying out. Worth’s approach involves first looking for an object of interest before thinking about a photo and how it should be composed. As he says, “I find that most of my favorite images have at least one clearly defined subject.”
Once Worth identifies a compelling subject he then works on the relationship between this focal point and surrounding objects within close proximity. This step involves determining whether these secondary subjects should be included or excluded from the shot. Here he notes that “quite often it’s what you exclude that can make a great image.” He then illustrates this point with images that were successful, and others that missed the mark.
This portion of the video is really important because it illustrates several uncommon tips on composition used by Worth to create dramatic images. And you can do the same by following his advice.
Then watch how he applies these powerful techniques when photographing the sunset from atop his high vantage point atop a hill. There’s much more to learn on Worth’s instructional YouTube channel, so be sure to take a look.
On a related note we encourage you to watch an earlier tutorial we posted, with another pro’s take on breaking the Rule of Thirds and using the unfamiliar Rule of Odds instead.