Dear friend,

A very simple photography composition tip: Look up!

Practical ideas/suggestions:

1. Use a wide-angle lens

Use a wide-angle lens (24mm, 28mm, 35mm) and look up, when photographing architecture or even the sky!

If you’re shooting a building, get very close to the side of the building, and look straight up!

Tip: Do more back-bends in yoga, to have a stronger back to look up!

The benefit of using a wide-angle lens in photography when looking up: you get more of the sky, or the architecture you shoot is more dynamic!

Or you can even use a medium-format TLR or Rolleiflex/Hasselblad camera with the waist-finder, and look up!

You can also do this digitally, with a flip-up/tilting LCD screen.

2. Shoot the edge of a building

When photographing architecture or buildings, try to get the edge in the photo. Visually this will better emphasize the diagonal/triangle compositions in the building.

Or another idea: Photograph the CURVE of a building:

3. Take a selfie with your phone on the ground

Fun experiment: put your camera phone in selfie mode, and put on the camera timer. Put your camera on the floor, and have a bunch of friends huddling around the camera, and shoot looking up!

4. Crouch down low, and photograph your subject against the sky/buildings

When shooting street photography, crouch down very low, and shoot your subject against the sky, to make them look ‘larger than life’ (superman effect), and making them look more powerful! Also by photographing your subject against the sky, you will better simplify your photo.

5. Diagonal composition

When you’re shooting up, photographing buildings or light poles/power lines, tilt your camera and make a diagonal composition, to make your composition more dynamic!

6. Look STRAIGHT UP!

Get in the middle of the road or some spot, and look straight up! Try to straighten (horizontal and vertical) lines of whatever you are photographing. This will give you a novel perspective.

7. Photograph the corner of your room

Look up and photograph the corner of your room

8. Get close to the side of the building, and shoot straight up!

9. Shoot the sky

Such a simple concept: but shoot the sky more often! I love to photograph clouds, because they are beautiful. Clouds put a smile on my face, and give me more hope and optimism in life! And they make me remember when I was a kid, when I used to lay on the grass, look up, and daydream and just imagine what the clouds looked like.

10. Shoot up looking at mirrors/reflections

A selfie I shot inside the BAPE store in Shibuya, Tokyo, where the whole building is full of reflections and windows.

When you’re in a place with windows, reflections or a lot of glass, try to shoot looking up, and bonus points if you get a selfie of yourself in the frame!


11. Put your camera really low to the bottom of the floor, and shoot looking up!

An example composition, with the ‘dutch angle’ (tilted/diagonal composition), with my RICOH GR II (28mm lens) on the floor, and looking up for a much more epic composition!


12. Photograph planes/helicopters

Pay attention to what is happening around you — try to shoot a plane/helicopter as it is crossing over you!

13. Tilt your camera

Composition is more fun and interesting when the horizon isn’t level. Purposefully tilt your camera to create the ‘dutch angle’ composition:

14. Shoot looking up inside stores

Go inside a grocery store, and get very close to whatever you’re photographing, and look straight up!

15. Shoot through colored textures

Simple tip: When you’re shooting, look for translucent textures or surfaces, and look up, and shoot through them!

16. Get on top of a roof and shoot up!

Get on top of a roof, and shoot up! This will give you a better unobstructed view of the sky or whatever you’re trying to photograph:


HOW TO SEE: Visual Guide to Composition, Color, & Editing in Photography

HOW TO SEE is your personal visual acuity manual to learn to “SEE” composition, color, and “read” (evaluate) the elements of a good photograph..


Composition 101

Master composition for yourself:

Photography Composition Tips

Color Theory

Color wheel theory: Dynamic tension between opposing colors. Image from CREATIVE EVERY DAY

Learn From the Masters of Composition

Sergio Larrain Compositions

Dynamic Photography Composition 101

Leading lines. ERIC KIM DYNAMIC COMPOSITION

Painting Compositions

Vermeer

Dynamic Photography Composition Tips

Chiaroscuro. DYNAMIC LIGHT AND SHADOW. Hanoi, 2016 by ERIC KIM

Composition Theory

Dynamic low angle composition. Tokyo, 2011 by ERIC KIM

Take your composition to the next level:


Street Photography Composition 101

DYNAMIC REFLECTIONS. Man and three reflections by ERIC KIM

For distilled lessons on composition, read the free ebook: “The Street Photography Composition Manual.”

Further articles to improve your compositions in photography:

Composition Theory

Woman and door. Chiaroscuro. DYNAMIC LIGHT AND SHADOW. Hanoi, 2016 by ERIC KIM

Learn compositional theory:


Compositional lessons from the masters of art


Composition lectures


Composition pictures/grids


Golden Diagonal Composition

Golden Diagonal Composition / Kyoto Station, 2018