A great camera and technical know-how only take you so far when you are learning photography. You also have to pay attention to your composition and what you are trying to convey with the pictures you take. The best way to start thinking about how to compose your own pictures is to study other photos you love.
Picture: John Roberts/Flickr
Photographer Simon Ellingworth has a great exercise to help you analyse the photos other people take so you can understand what makes them so good. He suggests you sit down with the photos that you think are particularly well composed, close your eyes, and when you open them, immediately look at the photo.
Then ask yourself a few questions, like where your eye is immediately drawn, and how you scan the photo (does your eye go straight to a specific object, or are you scanning the photo in an S-shape?) Was the photo taken from eye level, or is it a macro or wide-angle shot? How was light and shadow used in the photo?
Finally, ask yourself if it has spawned an emotional response. Studying a great photo for the way the photographer has composed it — and the narrative or emotional response you pick up from it — will help you examine your own shots for similar nuances.
You can read the full list of suggestions at the link below, but the gist is that by taking time to really examine the photos you like, you can understand how to improve your own composition before you ever go into the field. When you do head out to start shooting, you will be better able to compose great shots or at least sift out the bad ones when you review them later.