The term composition means 'putting together,'
and can apply to any work of art, from music to writing, that
is arranged or put together using conscious thought. In the
visual arts, composition is often used interchangeably with
various terms such as design, form, visual ordering, or formal
structure, depending on the context. In graphic design and
desktop publishing, composition is commonly referred to as
page layout. In photography it is commonly just called composition
and simply refers to how the elements in the photo are arranged
and how they relate to one another.
Line and shape
Line-like shapes are for all intents considered line elements
by the artist; for example, telephone and power cables or
rigging on boats. Any such elements can be of dramatic use
in the composition of the image. Additionally, less obvious
lines can be created, intentionally or not, which influence
the direction of the viewer's gaze. These could be the borders
of areas of differing color or contrast, or sequences of discrete
elements, or the artist may exaggerate or create lines perhaps
as part of his style, for this purpose. Many lines without
a clear subject point suggest chaos in the image and may conflict
with the mood the artist is trying to evoke.
Movement is also a source of line, and blur can also create
a reaction. Subject lines by means of illusion contribute
to both mood and linear perspective*, giving the illusion
of depth. Oblique lines convey a sense of movement and angular
lines generally convey a sense of dynamism and possibly tension.
Lines can also direct attention towards the main subject of
picture, or contribute to organization by dividing it into
The brain often unconsciously reads near continuous lines
between different elements and subjects at varying distances.
Horizontal, vertical, and angled lines all contribute to creating
different moods of a picture. The angle and the relationship
to the size of the frame both work to determine the influence
the line has on the image. They are also strongly influenced
by tone, color, and repetition in relation to the rest of
the photograph. Horizontal lines, commonly found in landscape
photography, can give the impression of calm, tranquil space.
An image filled with strong vertical lines tends to have the
impression of height, and grandeur. Tightly angled convergent
lines give a dynamic, lively, and active effect to the image.
Viewpoint is very important when dealing with lines particularly
in photography, because every different perspective elicits
a different response to the photograph.
Curved lines are generally used to create a sense of flow
within an image. They are also generally more aesthetically
pleasing, as we associate them with soft things. Compared
to straight lines, curves provide a greater dynamic influence
in a picture.
In photography, curved lines can give gradated shadows when
paired with soft-directional lighting, which usually results
in a very harmonious line structure within the image.
Squares, trapezoids, ellipsis, and triangles are formed by
lines and can appear as solid as an object like a cardboard
box or as abstract as the placement of elements in the frame
to create a shape. Three faces in a photo create a triangle,
or a line, or an ellipse.
Use due caution when using repetition. Too much of the same thing without significant variation can become dry and boring.
Repetitive solid shapes
Repetitive abstract shapes