Composition Tip – Avoid Mergers

Written by:

Okay, this just looks weird.


This is an EPIC example of a classic composition no-no – a “merger”. This poor giraffe looks like it has two heads, when really his buddy was standing behind him and looking off at an angle. But because of the way the shot was composed, what you see is just a somewhat odd snapshot.

Mergers are easy to spot, but hard to define. Many times mergers occur due to poor framing. It’s very obvious when photographing people – cutting feet off at the bottom, or catching a half of a person at one edge standing in the crowd. Sometimes a person is standing in front of a busy background and it can look like objects are sprouting from their heads. Well, like I said, it’s hard to define or describe, so here are some more examples of mergers.

This photo by Tyreseus on Flickr Creative Commons demonstrates several mergers. On the right and left hand side of the photograph, and on the bottom of the photograph, all of these people are cut off at strange points. It’s obvious that this person was just trying to capture the crowd and the festivities and wasn’t aiming toward aesthetics, but it provides for an excellent example in this tutorial.

Here is another example, provided by Supermac on Flickr Creative Commons. The young ladies’ legs are cut off, and the shrubbery in the background kind of looks like it’s sprouting from their heads. Framing the photograph vertically as a portrait-style picture, and attaining a different angle on the background, would resolve these mergers.


Near mergers are objects or lines that are just too close to the principal subject, drawing the eye away and detracting from the focus of the subject itself. This photo is of a friend of mine and her daughter, and you can see that the poster behind the daughter’s head causes a distracting delineation between her background and the background behind her mom, which is that of the window and the parking lot beyond.

An eye for detail is key in capturing pleasing photographs. I hope that this brief tutorial on mergers assists you in the development of your photographic skills.

Previous Post:

Comments are closed.