John Suler's Photographic Psychology: Image and Psyche


Part 2: The Psychology of Composition

composition in photography


In this section we'll extend the ideas discussed in Part 1 by examining some of the essential features of good composition. What are the various elements that make a photograph psychologically interesting to look at?

Composition is discussed in other books about art and photography, but here we'll expand the usual definitions of this concept by taking a peek into its underlying psychological dimensions. The principles of composition evolved for a good reason: they address the human need for unity, order, and emotional expression. They activate the mind’s natural ability to make sense out of things by stimulating associations from everyday life, by encouraging us to ask, “What does this remind me of?”

The big picture of composition
Camera angles
Selective color
Rule of Thirds
The Golden Spiral
Square format

Cropping and the frame
Abstract photographs
Negative space
Circular compositions
Movement in photographs
Body language in photography
Geometric and organic patterns
Symbolism: What does it mean?
Dyads (two shots)

Photographic Psychology: Image and Psyche