20 Simple and Elegant Henri Cartier-Bresson Composition Lessons

My favorite compositions of Henri Cartier-Bresson:

1. Surreal selfies

Find funny mirrors and fun house distortions and shoot your selfie!

2. Streams of light

Find a nice diagonal or thunderbolt shaped stream of light, and wait for someone to enter!

3. Three dimensionality

Make more three dimensional pictures by having things in the foreground, middle ground, and background, and lots of hand gestures and people looking in different directions!

4. Black space and triangles

Shoot in places with bright light, and shoot with – 1 or – 2 exposure compensation. Extra bonus points if you can make a triangle composition!

5. Blur

Find an interesting background or pattern, and shoot a person blurred and obscured. This will make your photo look more surreal.

6. Step back, show a sense of scale

Make your subjects super small, and show the urban landscape.

7. Minimalism

Just one subject from a distance, clean silhouette, and epic landscape.

8. Arabesque composition

Arabesque is a squiggly line, which adds more elegance and movement to your pictures.

A secret is to space out your subjects:

Or go to big gatherings of people. Make an arabesque by shooting people on different levels or planes:

9. Fill the frame with people

10. Diagonal composition, with subjects about to exit the frame.

11. Elegant minimalism without people

Just include birds and buildings.

12. Shoot on top of a mountain looking down

13. Wait for subjects to enter your frame

Find a nice composition in the background and be patient until your subjects enter your frame!

14. Curve composition

Repetition of ballerinas on top, and orchestra on bottom:

15. Repeating arm gestures (diagonals)

Also fill the frame:

16. Off center composition and leading lines

Look for steps, architecture that points to your subjects:

17. Hand gestures and triangles

18. Shadows and light

Keep it minimal:

19. Diagonal composition with lots of subjects spaced out

20. Dynamic tension of subjects looking opposite directions

Learn more about Henri Cartier-Bresson here >