Make the first shots you take as great as they’re meant to be! Here are some concepts on composition you should know about before you shoot.
In general, people have a pretty decent idea of what looks good aesthetically in an image. However, knowing exactly why an image looks good or trying to design and capture an image that looks good is the real challenge, one that filmmakers face every day. If you’re just starting out, it’s a good idea to get acquainted with basic concepts of composition and framing so you not only know why your eye is drawn to the things it’s drawn to, but so you are able to get the shots you envision in your head as well. Learn the ropes by checking out this video from Mango Street Lab.

There are many, many, many important concepts to learn about when it comes to composition and framing, but to get you started, here are the ones the video talks about:

  • The Rule of Thirds
  • Headroom
  • Looking room
  • Frame above or below your subject’s joints
  • Internal framing
  • Leading lines (vectors)
  • Perspective

These concepts are essential compositional “rules” that, if followed, can result in images with wide appeal. I know, that’s a controversial statement, but guess what, it’s true. Most human brains respond positively to compositions that abide by these “rules.” Think about it, why does it bother us so much when there’s not enough headroom in a shot? Because it makes the subject looked confined and makes us feel claustrophobic, and unless this is an intentional choice by the filmmaker, it makes no sense and drives viewers crazy.

Now, rules are great, but they’re also meant to be broken. Some of the most exciting cinematography of the last year, like Mr. Robot, completely dismantles the set of rules most filmmakers abide by. So go experiment! Just learn the rules so you know which ones you’re breaking!