The Cooperative of Photography put together a great video that illustrates 9 useful composition techniques as seen in legendary photojournalist Steve McCurry’s photography from around the world. McCurry is an award-winning editorial photographer best known for his photograph, “Afghan Girl” (Sharbat Gula), which originally appeared on the June 1985 cover of National Geographic magazine when she was approximately 12 years old.

It’s a super useful watch, and a reminder that photography isn’t just about pointing and clicking. McCurry reminds us at the end: “Remember, the composition is important, but also rules are meant to be broken. So the main point is to enjoy yourself while you’re photographing and photograph in your own way and your own style.”

 

Each of the 9 photo composition tips is illustrated with examples from McCurry’s impressive body of work.

#1 Rule of Thirds

Place points of interest on intersections

#1 Rule of Thirds

#2 Leading Lines

Use natural lines to lead the eye into the picture

#2 Leading Lines

#3 Diagonals

Diagonal lines create great movement

#3 Diagonals

#4 Framing

Use natural frames like windows and doors

#4 Framing

#5 Figure to Ground

Find a contrast between subject and background

#5 Figure to Ground

#6 Fill the Frame

Get close to your subjects

#6 Fill the Frame

#7 Center Dominant Eye

Place the dominant eye in the center of the photo.
This gives the impression the eyes follow you

#7 Center Dominant Eye

#8 Patterns and Repetition

Patterns are aesthetically pleasing.

Patterns and Repetition

But the best is when the pattern is interrupted

Interrupted Patterns and Repetition

#9 Symmetry

Symmetry is pleasing to the eye

#9 Symmetry

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For more, visit COOPH and Steve McCurry’s official site.

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