Arranging Elements in Your Photos

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The different elements in your photo can either make or break the effect you are after. If things are not organized properly then everything will look chaotic. We all know how tempting it is to just shoot away when you find an interesting scene but taking a few seconds to actually study where the elements will fall into will increase the number of great captures you will get in the end.

One of the first things you should keep in when taking photos is what the foreground, mid-ground and background is. This should be the first consideration before you even start thinking about compositional techniques such as the rule of thirds.

The foreground will serve to draw your viewers towards your subject but also, it is your introduction to your photo. This is much like the different techniques we discussed in 5 Ways to Hold Your Viewer’s Attention. In the photo below, the lake serves as a great element to lead you into the mountains.


CC Photo by rachel thecat

The mid-ground is the second element in your photo and is, well, located in the middle. This is typically where the predominant subject in the frame is. In the photo below, the sandy beach and foliage serves as the foreground leading to the solitary boat.


CC Photo by rachel thecat

The background holds everything together. It should serve as a backdrop that does not take attention away from the subject but rather complement it. It is the finishing touch of your photo. In landscape photos, the background is usually the sky. Take note though that this only works if the sky is interesting or dramatic enough.


CC Photo by FreeWine

Your subject does not always have to be in the mid-ground. In the photo below, the boat is located in the foreground. The line created by how the boat was angled automatically leads you to the other elements in the photo.


CC Photo by Daniel Gorecki

Making use of the foreground, mid-ground and background is not only relevant for landscapes. You can also use this for other types of photography such as portraits wherein you want to include the environment where the subject is. In the photo below, the window and curtain serve as the foreground elements leading you to the girl who is in the mid-ground. The bare blue wall serves as a great background since removes any other elements that can distract you from the main subject.


CC Photo by *Zara

Related Reading:
How to Use Lines to Enhance Your Photos
5 Ways to Hold Your Viewer’s Attention

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