A powerful down-to-earth  course in photographic composition

Click a photo to begin a lesson. It is important to start with the first lesson.
            What makes a composition work?
                    Beyond the rule of thirds
            Working with structural frameworks
           The value of repetition and pattern
              Working with color relationships
                Working in low color situations
                Visual balance and tension
              Compositional problem solving


Let's immediately get to the bottom of the biggest difference between ordinary photos and exceptional ones

The biggest, and most obvious difference between amateurish looking photography and outstanding photography is good composition. If you want to improve your photography, there is nothing more important.

      A photographer who is not very good with composition is not a very good photographer.

Composition is the arrangement of everything in an image into an aesthetically pleasing, interesting or compelling result. Good composition helps you visually communicate and helps maximize the impact of your photos.

Composition may seem difficult because every photographic situation is different and there are no fixed rules to follow. The "rule of thirds" tries to simplify things and is a good place for a novice to start, but it's just one simple approach. There are plenty of other ways to successfully compose an image. This course takes the mystery out of it and helps you understand what composition is really all about. You don't have to have a background in art. Anyone who completes the Emory Program will come to understand composition. Even advanced photographers will find food for thought to compare and help refine their own approach.

Advanced composition requires complex visual thinking. This course simplifies that process into words which anyone can understand and use.

How to create an exceptional photo

The first photo to the left is of Little River Canyon. Even though there are several miles of canyon rim to drive along and explore, getting an exceptional photo is not easy. Most visitors stop at the most accessible places, point their camera down into the canyon and come away with mediocre shots that all look pretty much the same. This photo was taken, not because of spectacular subject matter, but because of interesting structural content. Structural content includes line, shape, color, value, texture, and form. (If you haven't read the section on "content" you should go back and read it before starting the composition lessons).

The way to start an exceptional photo is to find an interesting, beautiful or unique subject and present it through a good composition.

Selecting interesting subject matter and structural content is the first step. How well you arrange it determines whether you have an ordinary photo or an exceptional one.

Shooting landscapes is an excellent way of learning to compose because composition is the primary tool for enhancing the beauty of nature. It is often more important than content. If your compositions are weak, your photos will be weak, no matter what the content. On the other hand, if your compositional skills are strong, you can sometimes get good pictures from ordinary content like a pile of leaves.

Each photo leads to a lesson. It is important to click the first photo to start the lessons.