The 2 Second Approach to Great Composition

Hi guys, Isaac here. So there you are: taking couple photos after the ceremony. The sun is doing exactly what you hoped it would do. You successfully snuck the bride and groom away from their congratulatory relatives. You’ve found the perfect spot. The background is just right. The moment is just right. And to top it all off, almost without your prompting, the bride and groom do the cutest thing you’ve ever seen. Luckily, you’re ready. Click. You catch a moment that you know will make your greatest photo ever. 2 Second Approach to Great Composition - The Jordan Brittley Blog

And then, when you load your cards (or get your film back) you see the photo. How, you ask yourself, did that 90s model compact car with the aftermarket paint job get into the back of my photo?! What would have been a slam-dunk album cover is now one for the garbage heap. And you are left asking yourself: what went wrong?

This is the ongoing battle when taking pictures. How do you focus on the couple and still get exactly the right composition? And I do mean exactly the right composition, because we all know that the difference between perfect and really good composition can be the difference between “can I have that in a canvas” and “did you get any others from that location”. So, how do you watch for the right composition without letting it take over your shoot (because you also don’t want to go all neurotic right before your clients’ eyes)?

2 Second Approach to Great Composition - The Jordan Brittley Blog

Fortunately, my brilliant wife helped me out on this by letting me in on her secret. Be prepared, it’s overly complicated:

Always check the four corners of the photograph before you shoot.

Oh wait, no, that isn’t overly complicated. Maybe I should repeat it for emphasis:

Always check the four corners of the photograph before you shoot.

2 Second Approach to Great Composition - The Jordan Brittley Blog

Seriously, that’s the magic secret. Here are three reasons why it helps:

1) It’s the corners that are messing you up. I have this sneaking suspicion that you aren’t getting your film scans back or loading your cards and saying “Oh no, I cropped off their shoes.” As a photographer, you are unconsciously checking those parts of your composition as you look at the couple. What gets you is the parts of the photo you aren’t necessarily staring at as you look through your viewfinder: the corners and the edges. Speaking of which:

2) Checking the corners makes you check the edges. As you let your eyes run quickly from corner to corner, they will naturally scan over all the edges of the photo. So, by checking the corners for undesirables, you are also quickly checking the edges. Once you’ve done that, those ridiculous EXIT signs have nowhere to hide.

3)

It’s fast. Like I’ve said, you don’t want to drive yourself crazy analyzing your composition before every shot. This method only takes, at most, one second. That’s so fast your couple won’t notice, but you will notice improved photographs.

 

It works. I can’t tell you how many photos I’ve saved by using this method and realizing I either needed to move myself, the couple, or something else. Getting the right composition is work! This method is quick and it will help you give your couple even more photos they will love.

-Isaac

2 Second Approach to Great Composition - The Jordan Brittley Blog

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