Thursday, April 1, 2010

Photo Lesson 101: Simplification

The first ever online Polka Photos Class is full. But you can still follow along on the blog. I'll be posting the lessons every Thursday for the next 5 weeks. The class lesson does have a few more tips and tricks. So if you're interested in the next online class let me know by emailing

Composition Lesson 1: Simplification

Composition is the way you arrange the elements in a photo or other work of art. There are many rules to composition. I prefer to call them guidelines or ideas since some of the best photos break these rules.

The first idea may seem easy, but it’s often the most overlooked when shooting snapshots. What exactly is simplification? Simplification is reducing visual clutter. The first thing you need to decide when taking a photo is what is your subject. Your subject can be a baby, playing kids, a flower, a building. Once you decide on your subject, look at the background. Sometimes you can move your subject to a better background, sometimes you can’t. If you can’t move your subject, you can move to find the best background. Are you taking a photo of someone and they have a tree sticking straight out of their head? Just move. Another way to simplify that is often overlooked is to get closer. For the purposes of this exercise, don’t use your zoom to get closer. Move yourself closer to your subject.

  1. Decide on a subject
  2. Look at the background
  3. Move the subject to a cleaner background if possible
  4. Move yourself to the right or the left
  5. Get closer

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