Friday, July 6

Things I've Learned from my Photograhy Mentor: Composition

Note: This took me around 18 months to complete this XD

I was supposed to be the first one to arrive at his studio on the 15 of January (2011) but since it wasn't yet 2:00pm, I went to Yogurbud to have a quick bite. When I got inside his studio, I was the third one to arrived and waited for the rest of our classmates to come in before our second lecture starts.

But before Sir Jo started his lecture on composition, we submitted our assignments and have it critiqued by him and the entire class as well. My shot was the 3rd to the last that was critiqued.

Initially, I thought I did well on my assignment but I was wrong. There were some parts of the picture that needs improvement as well as with my composition. I guess that how my shot got critiqued by one of the best photographers in the country today plus I kinda noticed it just after Sir Jo gave his comments on my photo.

After the critique session, he gave us a lecture on Composition. I agree that to be a better photographer, you must gain ample experience for you to develop your vision as a photographer. To learn composition, there are no shortcuts to it and you only learn it through experience. 

Sir Jo gave us five simple rules. First is A cow eating grass isn't a pretty picture. This would be the time when you take a picture no one understands. The picture should be able to communicate with the viewer and it should have its story. Second is Fill the frame with your subject. This eliminates visual clutter in the picture which may cause distraction to the viewer. You may use your feet or your zoom lens when moving closer or away from your subject. Third is Get lucky. When you take a few shots, chances are that you may get only a few decent photos or worse, you won't get any decent photos at all. Try take more than one picture but try to vary your position from the subject and shoot from different perspective. Don't forget to check your pictures to check for any improvements. The more you shoot, the more chances you get lucky but don't overdo it. Fourth is The middle is often boring. Most beginners do fall for this thinking that every object placed in the middle would create a good image. Though this would be true for some, but for most images putting it in the middle makes it boring. Trust me, I've been criticized much because of this. You could put your subject above or below the center or to the right or to the left from the center to make the image more interesting. And Fifth is Never fall in love with the sidekick. What would probably insult any photographer is that the viewer would look at everything else on your photo except your main subject (the hero). The sidekick gives support for the hero to make the photograph more presentable. If the viewer cannot recognize the subject, the image would simply be wasted regardless of how much effort produced. 

Light is also important when taking a photograph as this is the most basic element in a photograph. This may make or break a photograph depending on your intention. But at times, available light can be ugly so good lighting should be recognized to produce good photograph. 

Visual elements was also discussed like color, shape, pattern, texture and form. But I'd leave the researching to you guys as this may lengthen my post if I include it as well =P. 

Anyway, here are 10 things I've learned for the day.

1. Take time to study wasted shots.
2. If its not good enough, you're not close enough. - Robert Capa
3. The quality of light is much more important than quantity.
4. Try shooting the same scene horizontally and vertically to see which is better.
5. Use active angles to your advantage
6. Never ask your subjects to say "cheese". Instead, have them say "A".
7. By getting the lighting right first, problems with composition will be solved.
8. Learn to look at the frame as a whole
9. Learn to recognize decisive moments
10. Always have a camera with you.

Want to learn more, enroll at his class. XD

Part 3 coming soon (I hope XD)


  1. Thanks for sharing what you are learning in Photography. At the very list when I take my regular photos, I have some pointers to remember and what to avoid.

  2. thank you so much for sharing this! i really need this, i need to up my photography skills. LOL. ayoko pa sana magclasses, but i'm really bad at it. good thing you wrote some pointers. :) thank you so much!

  3. Before taking a basic photography class, I thought that my photos were good enough. But after the lessons, I realized that I still have a lot to improve on.. :)

  4. It's great that you are sharing what you've learned even if this is just on print. And I can totally relate to some of the mistakes one makes when taking photos. My kuya is actually a director, and the one thing that he has taught me was your #7, which then made sense right after applying it. :)

  5. it's really good to know a lot of technical details, once someone really absorbs it, it's really good to venture out to what one personally likes even if it contradicts some usual pointers. but then, it's really up to the photographer and his/her style. :)

  6. photography - how i wish i could learn the proper way to take a picture, am slowly learning through my digicam first, a friend taught me about proper lighting, through reading like your post i've been getting ideas and learn at the same time :)

  7. I'm learning to take shots (from my phone hahaha!) because of my blogs. As to my wasted shots, scrapped and totally wasted!

  8. numbers 1 and 10 is the most common things i've been doing ever since. always have my camera with me xx

  9. Ouch, you got me at #1. But what if the cow eating grass IS the story? Hehehe. I'm also guilty of putting the subject right smack in the middle of the frame. But I'm slowly getting the hang of the rule of thirds. Thanks for the tips. I have no plans of taking lessons, so your tips are very valuable.

  10. Ive never had photography class like this!
    But then, he was correct!
    experience teaches us most!


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