Here in lesson 4, we are going to dive a little further into perspectives and composition techniques. You have had time to practice with camera settings and working in manual mode. You worked on Rule of Thirds, Leading Lines, Framing and Depth of Field two months ago. You have also had time to find great lighting scenarios. Here we are, back at composition and I think you are going to love it.

Back in the day, when I was learning about these different techniques, it brought so much enlightenment and excitement to my photography work. I was in high school and taking a darkroom and film photography class. This meant we were snapping photos a bit more frugally and developing the images in a darkroom. It was so neat and exposed me to a new level of creativity. It was my favorite class that year. As you are going through my lessons, especially the lessons about composition, I really hope you find this new level of creativity spark within you. Let's begin lesson 4!

bird's eye view of a tween girl laying in the grass

Week 1: Perspectives and Angles

Again, I have broken this month's lesson into weeks. I think it helps to concentrate on one thing at a time, especially if this is new to you. So, in week 1 you are going to think about the perspectives you will be taking photos. I like to explain this by using animals. I know, weird, but it gives a good visual, so hang with me for a moment. Here are my animal perspectives you may want to try:

  • Bird's eye view: This is when you are shooting a photo from above.
  • Polar Bear's view: This view is shooting a photos at your height or slightly squatting.
  • Hedgehog's view: This view is shooting your photo while you are practically on the ground, or literally laying on the ground.
  • Bonus: Move around view: This one I don't have an animal name for. (I don't really have a good name for it at all, ha!) Instead, you use all these animal views listed above. When we take photos, it is very natural to step right in front of our subject and take a photo. What I want you to experiment with is stepping to the side, or take a photo from behind, etc. Move around and see what different angles speak to you.

Getting creative with perspectives, or at which angle you shoot a photo, gives a unique look at what is going on in a photo. Try it!

tween girl sitting on a wooden bench in front of large trees

Week 2: Negative Space

What is negative space? Negative space is pretty much any of the space in your photo that is not of your subject. This space can be forgotten about and left alone. Or, you can find times to use it and create something extra special. The photo above is a great example of creatively using negative space. What I think helps this negative space seem extra special is picking somewhere that has a consistent background. Sometimes it is easier to create negative space when you take a close-up photo. For example, you take a close-up of half a person's face, then the other half of your image is blurred out, negative background space.

tween girl standing in a field at Helen McCabe State Park near Ellensburg, WA

Week 3: Taking the "Big Picture" and Details

This week is discovering two composition techniques that are exactly what they sound like. First, taking photos to show the "big picture" is when you stand back or zoom out and capture all around your subject. Second, taking detailed photos is when you zoom in and are standing close to your subject. Often times, your subject in only partially in the photos. For example, a detailed photo could be of a decorative button on a jacket. In my lifestyle family photography, my detail photos are many times of what the hands are doing. For example, holding hands, hands running through hair, arms folded, etc.

Week 4: Portrait Vs. Landscape

A portrait photo is when you turn your camera to take a photo vertically. A landscape photo is when you take a photo horizontally. Pretty simple, but I wanted to touch on this, because I feel like it is pretty easy to start photography and only use one of these. That is not bad and maybe that is part of your style/brand. However, playing around with portrait and landscape directions of the same subject and set up, will give you a different level of interest to your photo.

Lesson 4 Assignment:

This month you are going to work through these 6 different composition techniques: perspectives, negative space, "big picture", details, portrait and landscape. Go through them week by week or go through them all in one day. That is up to you. As always, send me what you have created. I would love to see it!