Trying to take good photographs can be a satisfying but frustrating experience. Whether you’re using phones, tablets, compact digital cameras or large DSLRs, you can improve your photographs with some basic rules of composition. On holidays or at family gatherings, capturing and storing the moments through your gadget will be more rewarding with these simple techniques.

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The Rule of Thirds

When composing pictures it helps to imagine the scene divided in three, both vertically and horizontally. Place the elements in your picture on those imaginary lines or at their intersections.

Some digital cameras show these lines on the viewfinder. Placing everything in the centre can be static and even boring. The rule of thirds gives pictures a sense of motion.

Space to Move

Don’t make the people you’re photographing look as if they’re about to bump into the frame of your picture. If someone is walking or running, allow some space for movement ahead of them. Often seen in sports photography, this principle applies more generally and saves pictures from feeling cramped.

Balance and Lines

Symmetry gives your compositions a nice sense of balance. Patterns and lines can also be used to lead the viewer’s eyes across an image. Consider whether vertical or horizontal framing suits your image. When looking for balance and pattern, consider not just objects themselves but also their brightness, colour and shape.

Zoom With Your Feet

These techniques can help you to isolate what is important in your photograph. Rather than simply relying on a zoom lens, move around to find the right angle and don’t be afraid to get closer to your subject. Objects that might be distracting can instead be used to frame a scene. Try to raise or lower the camera to find different perspectives. When photographing children or pets, get down to their level.

Backgrounds and Edges

When taking a photograph, don’t just look at the main point of interest in your picture. Check the edges of the viewfinder or LCD screen for any distractions entering the frame.

Messy backgrounds are very distracting, and many portraits have been ruined by a composition that makes the subject appear to have a tree growing out of their head. With the newest mode of photography you can view pictures immediately and check for these mistakes.

These rules are useful, but don’t be afraid to break them for a good picture.

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