Composition definition

There are many ways to define a composition; still, there is no ultimate one. However, almost all of them narrow down to the simple notion: a composition is just a way of arranging objects in a frame.

Even though there are various "schools of composition", some of which have existed for hundreds and thousands of years, there are still no strict rules to follow. The point is, the viewer's attention span is quite short, so an artist or a photographer should grip it right away. In the following article, we'll share some proven methods to do it, but you still can try your own ones.

Composition emphasizes the elements that the creator wants to highlight. By choosing different photo or video compositions while taking a photo or doing final adjustments in a video editor, the author can shift the emphasis and trigger the exact emotions of the audience.

Compositional techniques

Here is a list of some techniques you can try out while making a photo or filming you video.

Rule of thirds

The frame is divided into 9 imaginary rectangles with the help of two vertical and two horizontal lines. The most important objects are placed either along the axes or at their intersection points.

Even if you know nothing about the rules of composition, this is a basic technique. Most modern photo cameras even have this grid of lines of symmetry automatically applied to the screen, dividing it into 9 equal parts.

Composition in photography rule of thirds

Golden spiral

This technique is also called the "Golden ratio" or "Fibonacci spiral". The ratio itself is approximately 1.618:1, the objects are placed in an imaginary curve, which leads the viewer's look through the image.

Composition in photography golden spiral

Diagonal or diagonals

The very term "diagonal" in photography may be used in its exact mathematical meaning, or it may be just any slanted line along which the compositional elements are arranged.

Composition in photography diagonal


This technique is particularly popular in landscape photography and videography, as paths and rivers often have a natural s-curve shape.

Composition in photography S-curve


The objects are placed perpendicularly, forming an L-shape.

Composition in photography L-shape


This technique might be called a "rule of quarters". The frame is divided by two imaginary perpendicular axes into four equal parts, and the objects are placed along these lines.

Composition in photography cross

Radial or radiating composition

This way of arranging objects is also quite generic for landscapes. There is an imaginary spot in the picture with other elements "radiating" from it.

Composition in photography radiating


Easy to guess, there is a circle in the image: for example, a lake or another round object.

Composition in photography circular


It may be an actual tunnel, but not necessarily. There are always objects in the foreground that lead and focus the viewer's attention to the background.

Composition in photography tunnel

Balanced composition

The balanced composition just follows the classical rules: all the objects are placed along imaginary lines of symmetry, and no part of the frame "overweights" the rest of the image.

Composition in photography balanced

Unbalanced composition

In contrast to the previous type, an unbalanced composition has a shifted focus, one part of the image clearly "overpowers" the others.

Composition in photography unbalanced


Let's sum it up.

What is a composition?

The way you arrange your objects in a frame. There are no "right" or "wrong" compositions, there are only more or less popular ones.

How to make a good composition?

The easiest way — to apply some well-known techniques, especially the ones invented thousands of years ago. You can use online video or photo editing tools to try different ways of arranging the elements while creating complicated projects.

What are some best compositional techniques?

The most often used one is the "rule of thirds". It's so popular that many amateurs use it unconsciously, not even knowing what it's called. Other well-known techniques are "diagonals", "S-curve", "tunnel", "L-shape".


That was just a brief overview of a few composition techniques, by no means not an exhaustive list. Practice is the best teacher, so only you can determine what works better for your photos or videos.