Simplify for a Stronger Composition

by Linda Eodice

Leaf on Truck Door
Leaf on Truck Door
© Linda Eodice
All Rights Reserved
Trying to pack too much information in a photo just makes for a too-busy composition. The human eye selectively picks out important elements in a scene, but the camera just takes it all in. This is why our photos frequently look busier than the scene we thought we were capturing. Ideally, a good photo should reveal a single subject or idea with as little clutter as possible.

Paring your compositions down to their simplest components begins as a mental process. Decide just what it is that you want to portray in a scene, such as a silhouetted figure at sunset, and then begin to eliminate all but the most important visual elements. Do you need the additional people in the foreground? Or the boat dock in the background? Probably not.

You can isolate subjects by experimenting with different angles of view, or by getting close and eliminating extraneous elements. While on vacation in New Mexico one autumn, I discovered a single fall leaf that clung to the door of our truck after a light rain. I wanted to isolate the lines of the door and the leaf, so I zoomed in closely and took in just these few elements. If I had photographed the entire vehicle, as well as the raindrops and leaves that fell on it, I think that the photo would have been much too busy and not as interesting as this simple statement.

By learning to unload excess visual baggage, we get a sense of seeing the way our cameras do. This way, you can begin to compose simple and powerful images!

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Lynne Eodice teaches at BetterPhoto's online photography school. Check out her inspiring interactive online courses:

About Author / Instructor / Photographer, Linda Eodice
Photography Instructor: Linda EodiceThe author of Photos That Inspire, Lynne Eodice teaches a number of excellent online classes for (see the current course listing below.) She is also the former Feature Editor for Petersenís PHOTOgraphic.

A native of Southern California, Lynne was educated at Pasadena City College and Cal Poly Pomona. Her love of photography began after her husband gave her a 35mm SLR as an anniversary gift. She began her career as a feature writer & photographer for local newspapers that included Pasadena Weekly and The Herald Tribune.

Besides having articles and photos published regularly in PHOTOgraphic, she has contributed to Rangefinder, Digital Photographer and California Tour & Travel, as well as PHOTOgraphicís Buyerís Guide, Big Book of Photography and Family Photo magazines. Her images have appeared in a popular instructional book called The Complete Idiotís Guide to Photography, and she has marketed her stock photos through Index Stock Imagery in New York.

Lynne has exhibited her fine-art scenic photography at Kolb Studio and the visitorís center at Grand Canyon National Park in Arizona, at Occidental College in Eagle Rock, California, and at venues throughout the San Gabriel Valley. In addition, she has taught many classes, seminars and workshops.

In the fall of 2007, she was honored as one of the Women Achievers in the San Gabriel Valley in Business Life magazine.

Lynne currently lives with her husband, Dennis and their dog, Chiquita in Altadena, California.