To make better compositions, block out distracting elements from your photos:


1. Handrail in the foreground

Shot on 28mm on RICOH GR II — note how I framed the photo to make the man on the top really small.

To do this, focus on the subject really far away — and try to have an element in the foreground ‘block’ out all the clutter from the rest of the photo.


2. Shooting from inside a car

I was in the passenger side, and to simplify the composition, I added the car door on bottom of the frame, to block out the distracting elements in the scene– to focus on the dog looking out.

3. Overlapping figures

Another photo on RICOH GR II (28mm wide-angle). To make a more interesting photo in Lisbon of the statue of Jesus, I made the Jesus statue really small on top of the frame, and added something in the foreground to block out the rest of the frame.


How to block out distracting elements

minimalist practice

Some practical tips:

  1. Use a wide-angle lens (28mm, 35mm), and don’t zoom. Rather, re-frame your scenes, by making your subject look very small, but put something in the foreground (like a wall) to block out distracting elements from your frame.
  2. Practice shooting high-contrast black and white JPEG mode on your camera, to better visualize the blocking technique. Or shoot in RAW, and when you’re processing your photos, increase the ‘blacks’ slider.
  3. Have fun with your compositions! Tilt your camera, and try to make your photos more dynamic and ‘edgy’.
  4. Practice shooting at home with your loved ones. Put your subject on the extreme left or the right of your frame, and try to make everything else in the photo pure black.
  5. Think of other creative or innovative ways you can simplify your photos by blocking out distractions!

Ultimately the tip is this:

To make better and more simple compositions, just block out what is distracting and superfluous from your frame!

Keep it simple,
ERIC


cindy minimalist angle photograph black and white apartment hanoi


Composition

ERIC KIM X ANNETTE KIM X BAUHAUS REMIX

Master composition for yourself:

Photography Composition Tips

Color Theory

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

Learn From the Masters of Composition

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Sergio Larrain Compositions

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Leading lines. ERIC KIM DYNAMIC COMPOSITION
Leading lines. ERIC KIM DYNAMIC COMPOSITION

Painting Compositions

Vermeer

Dynamic Photography Composition Tips

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

Composition Theory

Dynamic low angle composition. Tokyo, 2011 by ERIC KIM
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
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

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

Eric Kim photography Bauhaus Piet Mondrian


Golden Diagonal Composition

golden diagonal composition
Golden Diagonal Composition / Kyoto Station, 2018