“Remember, the composition is important, but also rules are meant to be broken,” says Steve McCurry, an American editorial photographer best known for his 1984 photograph ‘Afghan Girl’. “So the main point is to enjoy yourself while you’re photographing and photograph in your own way and your own style.”
Instead of rules, let’s talk about principles in London photography. These are what I keep in mind when taking photos in London or elsewhere.
When taking a photo of London try to have a simple frame, in order to make your main subject stand out. This is especially true when you are taking photos of buildings and houses. Cut out everything that will distract the viewer and focus on something unique and eye-catching. There is a whole chapter in the ‘London Photo Guide’ dedicated to mews, which are small streets in London originally functioning as stables a few centuries ago. It’s a row of houses and when taking a photo, you should choose just one and exclude other building from the photo.
2. Leading lines
A leading line creates a path for our eye to follow through all the elements of a photo. Think about a road or a path in a park. It can simply be a straight line starting from the bottom of the photo and continuing upwards to the middle of a frame. It can be a path that turns left or right. Unconsciously, we will follow this line to see where and how it ends. Think about what the line is leading to. Is it a house, a horizon or perhaps a person passing by? Leading lines might be bridges, rows of telephone booths, doorways or simply streets!
When I hear the word ‘symmetry’ in photography I start thinking about going to the middle of the road to take a photo of the street. It’s very similar to the leading lines principle, where you are looking for a line to draw people’s attention. If you take a photo in square format, break the rule of thirds and place your main subject right in the middle. In this way you divide the shot into two equal parts, creating symmetry.
Actually, it’s very easy to find symmetry in street photography—think of standing (carefully) in the middle of the road or taking a photo of a building and positioning its windows and doors symmetrically in the shot.
Framing is an interesting way to compose your photo. If you want to isolate your subject from a busy background and draw maximum attention to it, look for constructions that create frames. I like going to a quiet side road and photographing people on the main road crossing the street. In this case I use buildings to frame my shot, so that nothing detracts from the people in the middle. Trees, street lights, two cars, and so on are all perfect to use as frames. Think of windows and door frames. Another trick: you can blur the edges of the photo you’ve taken. This will also make your main subject stand out.
In order for our photos to be eye-catching they should look as natural as possible. Adding depth to the composition helps us separate layers on the photo. Placing a subject or subjects in the foreground helps you to create visual space. For example, when taking a photo of St. Paul’s Cathedral for ‘London Photo Guide’ I used four layers. From front to back: tree branches, people passing by, a bridge and a cathedral. Do you see the depth in this photo?
6. Negative space
Negative space is the area that surrounds your main subject, which is called positive space. The main purpose of composing a photo in such way is to attract maximum attention to the main subject of your photo. An example would be sky, water or even walls: anything that works as a neutral background for your photo and help us focus directly on the subject inside the frame. If you are taking a photo of London from above you can easily use this principle. Place the rooftops of buildings on the bottom of a photo and the rest will be sky.
My favorite types of photography are travel and lifestyle. I love shooting streets, coffee shops and landscapes. When it comes to editing, I have 5 apps I can’t live without.
I use them for:
– Adding white borders
– Cropping photos to different aspect ratios
– Applying filters for this insta famous ‘cold’ feel
– Removing dirt and even objects
– Removing yellow effect and making a white background perfectly white
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