If you’re looking to develop your photographic skills there are myriad tips and tricks that can help you on your journey. Whether you’re simply a keen amateur or you have aspirations of becoming a professional, it’s a lifelong learning process but one that can reap huge rewards in terms of creative fulfilment. |
A really effective way of learning the best pro tips (from the pros themselves!) is to do an online course. A Steve McCurry photography course, for example, allows you to get up close and personal with one of the most iconic photographers of our time. (Even if you think you don’t know anything about a Steve McCurry photography course, Google ‘Afghan Girl’ and you’ll certainly know his work.)
But as well as doing courses, both online and in-person, if you make it a habit to ‘collect’ professional tips at every opportunity (and then put them into practice), your own work will continue to incrementally improve.
Here is one tip that will undoubtedly help your compositions and help create more striking images.
Using Odd Numbers in Photographic Composition
You may have heard of the rule of thirds in composition, but the rule of odds is a lesser-known tip that helps you to create much more visually effective images.
To break it down to its simplest definition: grouping objects (by intentionally placing them or using what’s there within a frame when composing) in odd numbers forces the viewer to look more consciously and longer at the image, therefore creating interest. (Basically the human brain has to work a little harder when processing odd numbers than when processing even numbers.)
Putting it into Practice
If you’re working in a studio setting with still life objects or even people, it’s easy to be in control and place or group your subjects into threes, fives or sevens. The best way to understand how this works is to experiment and then evaluate your images for yourself. Even basic compositions like fruit in a fruit bowl, or ceramic vases and objects d’art can serve as valuable props. Try setting up a scene with even numbers and then with odd and see how much more powerful and appealing the latter is. (You should also pay attention to other elements such as leading lines, triangles and negative space.)
When you’re shooting out in nature or on the streets, the rule of odds becomes a little more out of your control, of course. But if you remain conscious of it you can compose your frame accordingly. If you’re looking for it, there are odd numbers all over the place – but also remember you have the power to crop or omit extraneous things from a scene. It’s what composition is all about: deciding what goes in and what stays out of the frame, and the relationship between those elements.
Three flowers on a stem, five trees in a grove, seven cars in a traffic snarl, three birds on a fence, five rock formations at a rugged beach, three athletes vying for a place… As you can see, the possibilities are literally endless and once you begin consciously looking for and using odd numbers in your photographic compositions it will become more and more natural.
A side note: It’s worth bearing in mind that there are always exceptions to every rule and you’ll need to make your own creative decisions when it comes to composition. All rules are made to be broken occasionally!
Learn Pro Tips from the Pros
If you’re serious about taking your photography to the next level, you should consider some expert training. A Steve McCurry photography course (or indeed one with any of the renowned Masters of photography) is a highly effective way in which you can access online learning in a very practical and inspirational context.
Adam Harper is a Photography Consultant at Masters of Photography. If you’re looking for courses from the world’s greatest photographers, they offer a Steve McCurry photography course online as well as other excellent Masterclasses. Suitable for all levels, the courses provide lifetime access to easy to follow classes, allowing participants to learn valuable tips and tricks and take big steps to improve their photography. The online community affords the opportunity to find inspiration from both the Masters and fellow students.
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