How To Develop Your Photographer’s Eye | Part 2

In last month’s installment we discussed telling a visual story. In Part 2 we are digging into interesting composition.

Take a look at this photo. Grab a piece of paper and list everything that catches your attention about the photo. Don’t read anything else until you’ve written at least 7 things (Click on it to see the larger image for even more detail.)

How many things did you list? Let’s see if you noticed what I noticed.

Rule of Thirds

Imagine a tic-tac-toe grid across the photo. The boys are on one line, the horizon on another. Visually the photo has appeal because of the strength of the rule of thirds. More on the rule of thirds.

Leading Lines

Did you notice how your eye enters the photo and moves through the frame? Mine enters at the bottom of the frame and wanders down the road with the boys. The light color of the road draws our eye and the line helps us continue down the road.

The Horizon

The horizon creates a strong point of interest in your photos. Notice how a little less than one third of the frame is dedicated to the blue sky. Including more sky would distract from the subject of the photo. Less would leave the photo feeling chopped off and incomplete.  Think about placing the horizon on the top third line of that tic-tac-toe grid.


Did you notice how the photo doesn’t look flat? There is a clear foreground, midground, and background.  Those layers allow the viewer to have more space to look into the photo.  Shooting with a narrow aperture keeps the layers in nice focus throughout the frame.

Tonal Contrast

Light in a photo attracts. Dark recedes. Notice how your eye goes to the berry bucket in the little boy’s hand? That is tonal contrast working. The white area draws our eye right to it. It almost jumps out of the frame when you look at it a second time.

Color Contrast

Did you notice any particular colors when you looked at the photo? Color contrast adds to our composition. Notice how the green, blue, and brown work together through contrast? Notice the pop of red?

Shoot With Intent

Thinking about your composition as you pick up your camera you will create more appealing images. Of course, you don’t need to use everything listed for this photo, but consider what you are trying to achieve when you frame your image.

I’m curious, what else did you notice about the image? Share in the comments below.