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Three Tricks to Compose Captivating Photos

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A good photo needs an interesting subject, but the photo's composition is equally important. This principle can easily be observed when two people take a photo of the same subject at the same location: their photos will often look completely different. This tutorial walks you through some of the key composition rules used by professional photographers to take striking photos. Armed with these tricks, you'll soon be taking jaw-dropping shots with your smartphone.

 

The Basics

The Rule of Thirds

If you do a web search for the keywords "photography" and "composition", you'll churn up page after page of results featuring titles such as 9 Top Photography Composition Rules You Need To Know, 20 Composition Techniques That Will Improve Your Photos, or 18 Composition Rules For Photos That Shine. However, many of these articles are riddled with unfamiliar concepts and technical jargon that can prove overwhelming for beginners. This article takes a different approach, focusing on some more fundamental rules of composition that are easily mastered, such as the rule of thirds, the golden ratio, and the Fibonacci spiral.

Novice photographers tend to position their subjects in the center of the frame, which makes them stand out, but results in a less visually-appealing photo. If this applies to your photos, you may want to try applying the rule of thirds. To use the rule of thirds, take your frame and overlay a nine-block grid (dividing the vertical and horizontal space into three parts). Important elements in the photo should be aligned with one (or more) of the four intersection points in the grid.

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Studies show that these intersection points are where the human eye tends to go first, so placing important elements on these points can help emphasize the subject and produce photos that are more visually appealing.

 

The Golden Ratio

The golden ratio is a similar technique that can be used to draw the viewer's glance. This technique uses a famous mathematical ratio to draw a nine-block grid with the unique, eye-pleasing proportions of 1:0.618:1. This type of grid is known as a phi grid. As with the rule of thirds, points of interest in the shot are lined up with intersection points in the grid to produce visually-harmonious, captivating images.

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By now, you are probably wondering which of these two grids you should be using. In fact, the difference between the two is quite subtle. Research shows that our eyes are drawn intuitively towards the four intersecting points in the rule of thirds grid, while the points of intersection in a phi grid can be harnessed to create more harmonious, aesthetically-pleasing photos. However, every picture is different, so there is no hard-and-fast rule about which guideline you should use.

 

Advanced Composition

Fibonacci Spiral

The Fibonacci spiral is another camera overlay which is derived from the golden ratio. The subject is usually placed at the smallest part of the spiral, which guides the viewer around the image in a natural flow. The Fibonacci spiral is a useful tool for organizing and framing visual elements that expand outwards from the center of a photo.

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Configuring Assistive Grids

Most experienced photographers know exactly how they will compose a shot before they press the shutter. Many of their photos conform to the rules of thirds or golden ratio even when they don't use a viewfinder overlay. Moreover, true masters of the art will deliberately break these rules of composition to achieve even more spectacular results. However, less experienced snappers may find that an assistive grid allows them to get more out of their camera. The HUAWEI P10 and P10 Plus feature built-in assistive grid support, allowing budding photographers to put these rules of composition to the test.

To enable an assistive grid on the HUAWEI P10/P10 Plus, open Camera, swipe left on the screen to open the camera settings, and then touch Assistive grid. Select the type of grid you want to use, return to the viewfinder screen, and then start snapping away!

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