Photo Composition for Better Photography
Notes from the Web

Question and Answer (Q&A)


As you prepare to photograph an outdoor scene, it might help to run through a series of questions designed to strengthen the composition while improving your ratio of good to bad shots. In fact, you might even save some money by taking fewer and better shots.

Some web authors recommend cribbing your own Q&A sheet to take into the field, at least until the process becomes automatic.

The questions below are merely samples that illustrate the Q&A process.



  • Why do I want to take this photograph?
  • What is my subject?
  • What will my viewers take from this shot?
  • What feelings do I want my image to evoke?



  • What elements attracted me to this scene?
  • What is the optimum placement of the subject (or horizon)?
  • What is the path the eye will follow when examining this picture? Are there lines I can take advantage of?
  • Is there balance (object, light value, gestalt space, color)? Can we create a more interesting picture through deliberate imbalance?
  • Do I have the best lighting for this location? Should I come back another time?
  • What elements work together best? What clash?
  • Is there a natural frame I can take advantage of?
  • What should I include and exclude?
  • Can a close-in shot of a single aspect of the subject be more effective?
  • What is the simplest means to get the results I want?
  • And so on... You could ask dozen's more, but that depends on your temperment.


Now that you know the principles of composition feel free to break them - selectively. After all principles are guidelines and not rules.