Taking great photos is easy if you remember to think in terms of 'grounds'.
When I taught photography at the Rhode Island School of Design, I had my students focus on composition first because it is the most fundamental photographic concept and the hardest one to grasp.
Other photographic principles such as exposure, lighting and depth of field came later after they’d mastered composition. With today’s digital cameras most technical aspects are automated. You can take a pretty good photo just by pointing and shooting; that is if you have the scene framed correctly.
There are a lot of formulas and theories about composition but I like to keep things simple. So, here it is: To create a visually pleasing composition you need only think of three things when you look in the viewfinder:
Foreground: Look through you viewfinder and include something close up. It could be a rock, grass, a car or a person; anything you can see to create interest.
Middleground: Pick something to fit in the middle distance. A bit farther away than the foreground but not so far away as to make it register as background.
Background: Make sure there’s something interesting in the background. It could be a range of mountains, a bank of clouds, a body of water, a cityscape or...
Start thinking in terms of ‘grounds’ the next time you’re out shooting pictures. The subject of your photograph doesn’t necessarily need to be in the middleground, (though it often is) it could occupy any of the grounds.
So give it a try. You’ll discover your sense of composition will improve and your photos will take on an added sense of depth and interest.
For more tips on photography and design check out my book, Your Three Second Window.