Composition 101

Learning to Frame Dynamic Street Scenes


Peter Pickering

4/27/20242 min read

If you're diving into the world of street photography, mastering the art of composition can be a game changer. It's not just about snapping what you see; it's about crafting a photo that draws the viewer's eye and tells a story. Here are some fundamental composition techniques to help you turn those random street scenes into compelling images.

Rule of Thirds: This is your bread and butter. Imagine breaking down your image with two horizontal lines and two vertical lines, like a noughts and crosses board. Try to position the most interesting parts of your scene along these lines or at their intersections. This technique helps in balancing your shot and making it more pleasing to the eye.

Leading Lines: Use the natural lines of the street—like roads, pathways, or even a row of lampposts—to lead the viewer's eye into the image. These lines don’t just guide your viewer through the photo but also add a sense of depth and perspective.

Framing: This can be super fun to play with. Look for natural frames within your environment—arched doorways, windows, or even overhanging branches. Framing adds depth to your photo and focuses the viewer on the main subject.

Look for Patterns and Symmetry: Repeating patterns or symmetrical arrangements are visually attractive. They can be man-made, like architectural details, or natural, like the arrangement of leaves on the pavement. Sometimes, breaking these patterns can create tension and interest, so keep an eye out for disruptions.

Play with Perspectives: Don’t just shoot from eye level—mix it up! Try shooting from high above or down low. This change in perspective can make an everyday scene look fresh and different.

Use of Negative Space: Sometimes, what you don’t include in the photo is just as important as what you do include. Negative space is the area around and between the subjects of an image. It can help to highlight the subject, making it stand out and giving it more power.

Remember, these rules are not set in stone. Feel free to bend them based on what the scene offers and what feels right to you. The street is your canvas, and how you compose your shot can turn the mundane into the magnificent. So, keep your eyes peeled, your camera ready, and most importantly, have fun capturing the vibrant life of the streets!

© Peter Pickering 2024.