Photography Tip — Simplify the frame

Sometimes the easiest way to improve the composition of a photo is to simplify the content that is shown in the photo. When framing up to take a photo it’s normal to focus on your subject and take the shot. To simplify a composition we need to take a few moments to look at what is around the subject in the frame. Does it need to be there? Is it contributing to the story you want this photo to tell?

Sometimes it can be a simple as taking a step to the side or getting a little closer. Sometimes it’s about getting further away. If you want part of the landscape around your subject to tell the story of the photo then you’ll want to move back, use a wider angle lens and probably stop down your aperture to get more of the scene in focus.

Take this image as an example.

This is a photo of some tiny flowers on the very end of some otherwise bare branches. I used a shallow depth of field and telephoto zoom to blur out the background and focus on the flowers. However, when looking at this image, you might find your eye is drawn to the dark patch from the leaf on the right side. It hasn’t done anything at all to help this composition, and worse still, it’s pulling attention away from what the subject was. This needs to be simplified in order to improve it.

In this case, in order to simplify this shot in camera, I turned the camera on it’s side to shoot portrait and I composed the shot carefully making sure the leaf was out of the frame.

As you can see, that dark leaf doesn’t pull your eye away anymore because it isn’t there. You could take it even further and tidy things up more in post processing if you wanted but be careful not to overdo it.

As a photographer, it’s good to keep in mind to check the area in frame around your subject and not just be solely focused on the subject. This can help avoid posts sticking out of peoples heads as well as help you simplify the composition and avoid including things that will only serve to complicate and distract the viewer.

Hope you’ve found this tip helpful… now… Get out there and give it a go.

Self taught software developer and photographer.

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