I am a huge fan of the Canadian rock band Barenaked Ladies. They were very popular in the 2000s and their songs were creative, fun and edgy. They also came up with a children’s album called Snacktime and it was a blockbuster hit. Now you must be wondering what a music band has to do with photography but just bear (pun intended!) with me and keep reading on.
One of the songs on the kid’s album is called “Crazy ABC’s” and it was not the traditional alphabet song. In fact, the whole song used unique and different words that begin with the traditional letters of the alphabet. Are you still with me here? At the end of the song, the lead singer (Ed) encourages kids to think outside the box when it comes to learning. Everyones knows the typical A, B and C words like Apple, Cat, and Ball. But think outside the box and see what a wonderful world it opens up.
Thi is how that example relates to photography. We all know the basic composition techniques – the rule of thirds, center focus, fill the frame, etc. How about we change things up and look at some of the atypical composition techniques – after all, it really is such a wonderful world out there, why see it from a boring frame of reference!! Let’s get creative.
#1 Look for reflections
Reflections don’t always have to be done with water. Reflections on water are probably the easiest thing to do if you want to get creative. But following the theme of changing things up, try other surfaces as well. Actually, any reflective surface can be used to add an element of creativity to your frame.
#2 Look for symmetry
Just like in point number one above, symmetry does not necessarily mean centered composition of the subject. As long as you can draw a virtual line across the frame and have two exact replicas of the image, symmetry is achieved. Try to think of creative ways to achieve symmetry.
#3 Use of negative space
I love the use of negative space to add so much more to an image without any additional weight of other subjects. I am always thinking of ways to use negative space to add that extra special “oomph” factor to my images.
#4 Multiple exposures
This is by far one of my favorite ways to add a little creativity to my images. Don’t feel you need to be limited by using only two exposures in the case of multiple exposures. This works great for three or even four exposures and can be done in-camera as well as in post-processing.
#5 Slow down your shutter speed
By having a long exposure (slowing your shutter speed) you can add some creativity to your shots. Traditionally we see this with waterfalls or flowing water shots. But try and do this with other subject matter as well. Sometimes that intentional blur can be used just as a creative expression, or to create abstract art in your images.
#6 Creative framing
Try and incorporate frame within a frame within a frame or any combination of that in your photos to add a fun element and lead the viewer into where you want them to focus their attention.
I hope these tips encourage you to think differently when it comes to photographic composition. Sure you likely know the tried and true rules – things that you know will work when all else fails. But you know what? Embrace that failure to grow creatively.
Experiment and try some of these creative composition techniques. In fact, take a chance and maybe try a couple of them together. Who knows what might happen, but at least you will feel like you explored outside your comfort zone. And the best part is that these tips work well for almost any genre of photography. So get out there and create some magic.