Structure Underpins Composition

A lovely, figurative detail in stone in the Mitte precinct of Berlin, Germany.

Structure is an important consideration underpinning composition. When it comes to photography it’s important to think about the way your photos are structured. In the beginning the process is quite deliberate and based upon fundamental concepts of composition. The good news is that, after a while, such considerations become intuitive. You’re decisions begin to occur so quickly that you’re barely aware of them.

Lines and Shapes

The above photo was made in the Mitte precinct in central Berlin. I was stumbling back to my hotel after a very hot day wandering around town. As my explorations included visits to several museums I didn't have a tripod with me. That made making the image difficult in the fading twilight. I was really tired, so I steeled myself and held the camera nice and steady. I'm really happy with the result, which I've rendered into black and white to emphasize the shapes carved into the stone.

What’s Defined and What’s Suggested

Lines and shapes are amongst the most important elements of composition. Sometimes the shapes are clearly defined, as is evident in the above photo, while other times they’re suggested.

Frames Within Frames

It’s interesting how space can be used to suggest shape. For example, it's the tiny space around much of the two central figures that helps them to visually project outwards from the other shapes that surround them.

See My Photos, In All Their Glory

If you really like the image and would like to see it filling more of your screen simply click on the photo for an enlarged viewed. Now, how good is that?

Going Forward

You might like to spend a few minutes looking at some of your favorite photos, from your own collection, to see if you can identify how you’ve used line and shape to produce more interesting images. Remember, photos are not just about the subject matter (e.g., face, building, flower) depicted, they can also be studies in composition and, of course, light. Picasso (e.g., Weeping Woman) and Monet (e.g., Sunflower) would probably agree with that statement.   

Glenn Guy, Travel Photography Guru