Is it possible to have too much in the frame of your image?
The answer is yes, yes and yes.
Two key factors will help you gain a full understanding of photo composition despite any rule I offer in this course. The first factor is viewing other photographer’s work. By viewing other photographs you can see firsthand what a photographer captured and how they captured it. You can then make notes of particular ways photographs have been taken then apply these techniques to your own photographs.
Do keep in mind I am by no means telling you to copy other photographer’s work. Instead be original and create your own unique photos using tested techniques.
The second factor to understanding photo composition is putting the rules into practice. You will hear me say this over and over – practice, practice and more practice will lead you to achieve stronger composition.
Above all else, the number one rule of photo composition is the most important to remember. Simplify your scene the best you can.
Too much unnecessary clutter leaves the viewer of your photographs confused because they don’t know where to look. All of the clutter leads to no one particular focal point.
Let’s take a look at a few images that are cluttered.
In this first photo, we see an overview of a bunch of buildings. Perhaps the point is to show an overcrowded city scene. If this is the case, the photographer achieved the goal. On the other hand, take a look at the image again. Does your eye go to one particular spot? It doesn’t. There is too much clutter for the eye to be directed anywhere.
The same is true of the photo with the pile of tools. It is one big mess, isn’t it? I almost want to buy the person a toolbox. When viewing this photo the eye wanders around the image aimlessly. There is no focal point. Do you see one?
This third image is nice with its soft colours and linear display across the frame. But, where does the eye go? The flowers? The fabric? The ruler? At first glance, we want to like this photo because of the softness of the colours but there is not one clear focal point making the composition ineffective.
Is it possible to break this rule and have a cluttered image that works? The answer is yes which can be seen in this image of very cluttered bookshelves. You might call this clutter overload! Because of the lines created by the bookshelves the eye is led to the open doorway. In this image, the clutter has a focal point and the composition is effective. The composition of this photo works quite well.
The image below uses what I would call organised clutter. The shirts are nicely lined up across the frame of the photo. My eye goes directly to the blue shirts which appear to be the focal point. The cuff of the shirt also stands out because it is different than all of the others. So, yes. clutter can work if used effectively in photo composition.
If your image has a clear focal point despite all the clutter madness, you capture a photo that will work.
As always, practice will make you a better photographer. Practice will help you recognise these situations which will, in turn, lead to a nice composition for your photos.