One of the ways our mind sees: we chunk together related pieces of information, and just see one piece. This helps simplify our vision:
New to composition? Get access to this free PDF visualization on composition >
Find infinite inspiration in photography from the masters:
JUST SHOOT IT.
1. Isolated person from the chunk (group) of people
Take this photo from Henri Cartier-Bresson from China. Note how the soldier on the bottom of the frame is isolated from the “chunk” of people in the middle of the frame.
Also note, how the foreground, middle ground, and background is divided into thirds:
Another photo by Henri Cartier-Bresson, note the division of the spectators in the foreground, the cars in the middle ground, and cars in background. Your mind automatically groups, or “chunks” these elements together.
For example, we see the group of people in red as one chunk of people. We then see the cars in yellow as one chunk, and the cars in blue as another chunk.
We differentiate the chunks, via separation and composition.
I like this composition, because you can see the curves of the composition.
Ultimately this is a great photo, because it demonstrates a critique on American mass media and consumerism.
3. Leading lines and chunking
You can also use leading lines and chunking.
For example, on the top of the frame — you don’t see individual trees. Rather, your brain “chunks” or groups all the trees as one element. Therefore, you can better identify the leading lines in the trees (triangle) that point to that one solitary figure crossing over.
With chunking, use this technique to divide your frame accordingly to isolate your subject.
Learn more about Henri Cartier-Bresson
Learn more about composition
Want to learn more about street photography and composition?
For more exclusive access to free resources on photography to inspire you, subscribe to ERIC KIM NEWSLETTER >
Never miss the decisive moment, ever again.
The timeless wrist strap for street photographers.
Make better photos:
Street Photography Composition 101
For distilled lessons on composition, read the free ebook: “The Street Photography Composition Manual.”
Further articles to improve your compositions in photography:
- Composition Lesson #1: Triangles
- Composition Lesson #2: Figure-to-ground
- Composition Lesson #3: Diagonals
- Composition Lesson #4: Leading Lines
- Composition Lesson #5: Depth
- Composition Lesson #6: Framing
- Composition Lesson #7: Perspective
- Composition Lesson #8: Curves
- Composition Lesson #9: Self-Portraits
- Composition Lesson #10: Urban Landscapes
- Composition Lesson #11: “Spot the not”
- Composition Lesson #12: Color Theory
- Composition Lesson #13: Multiple-Subjects
- Composition Lesson #14: Square Format
New street photography composition lessons
Learn compositional theory:
- Why is Composition Important?
- Don’t Think About Composition When You’re Shooting Street Photography
- How to Use Negative Space
- Street Photography Composition 101
- The Theory of Composition in Street Photography: 7 Lessons from Henri Cartier-Bresson
Compositional lessons from the masters of art
Learn more: Photography 101 >
Take your street photography to the next level:
- August 27 (Friday): SEATTLE MASTER STREET PHOTOGRAPHY WORKSHOP - [NOW LIVE!]
- September 11 (Saturday): DOWNTOWN LA ADVANCED STREET PHOTOGRAPHY WORKSHOP - [NEW!]
Be notified of when new workshops are live here.