The basic concept of composition revolves around what to include in your image and where it appears within the frame. As you go through the process of creating your image there are many things to consider, one of them being how do you want to guide the viewer’s eye through the image?
How do you want the viewer to scan through your image? Left to right, right to left, top to bottom or bottom to top? Center out or clockwise, there are many possibilities. However you decide to go you must be intentional about it in order to create great images.
Many times the subject will guide you. This is particularly true with macro. When you work with an insect the direction it is moving will define the choice. The direction a flower petal faces will guide the choice. Symmetry will have a natural direction of view.
With many various factors already guiding the composition how do you make it your own? One of the biggest tools we have in our arsenal is negative space, the parts of the composition that is not a part of your main subject or message. Negative space is hugely important to your overall composition. Learn how to use it effectively.
Very specific to macro is how we use depth of field. Where are you going to put the focus plain in the image. Your eyes will go to the in-focus portion first and work from there. Given the extremely shallow depth of field we work with, placing it effectively in the image will help to create more interesting and pleasing photographs. Use this as a tool to guide the eye through the image.
Understand the biases you may have when creating, but don’t let it interfere with you developing a style of your own. There can be a cultural component to this. For English readers you read left to right. Other languages will read right to left. This can lead to a bit of bias as we start to look at an image. A subconscious way you will start into an image. It can also be a subconscious factor as you start to compose an image.
There can be a lot of experimentation as you find what is pleasing and works. It is a good thing, it is one of the great parts of being a photographer. Getting better at the craft requires time, practice and trying different things. Find what you feel guides your eye and then ask others if they have the same experience.
*None of the images in this article have been captioned. Leave us a comment and let us know how your eye is drawn through these photos.