Two Easy Ways to Improve Your Compositional Skills
  • Post category:YouTube Takeaways
  • Post last modified:June 29, 2021
  • Reading time:3 mins read

This post in my YouTube Takeaways series comes from Andrew Marr. Andrew describes a couple great strategies that helped him to develop his compositional skills in photography.

Analyze Photographs from Photographers You Admire

One tip Andrew Marr discusses in this video is analyzing the photographs of photographers you admire. By spending a few minutes analyzing a couple shots each day, you’ll gradually begin to notice how the photographer composed their images and discover ways to improve your own composition skills.

Save Instagram Images to Collections for Analysis

Instagram is an easy place to find content to practice this analysis. To stay organized, Andrew encourages you to save posts to collections to refer back to them or review when you have more time.

What to Look for in the Images You Analyze

When analyzing images you find on Instagram or websites, Andrew recommends studying the lines and shapes they’ve used to guide your eyes through the image. He also suggests paying close attention to how they’ve used composition to create structure and order within the image.

Ask yourself, “What part of the story or emotion has been enhanced through the composition that they’ve used?” Andrew encourages you to not just focus on the obvious composition choices, but study how they’ve simplified the scene or minimized distraction.

Finally, you can analyze how the photographer added depth or drama to their photo. This suggestion from Andrew is extremely important if you want to stand out from other photographers.

Consistently Try Different Composition Techniques

Andrew’s second strategy to help you develop your composition skills comes down to experience. You won’t improve if you aren’t pushing yourself to get out and shoot while trying new things with your camera.

He stresses the importance of taking risks and breaking composition rules you’ve probably already learned. Rules are made to be broken, especially when it comes to photography.

Regularly shooting gives you the opportunity to experiment and discover what works (and what doesn’t).

Since it’s often not feasible to shoot stunning landscapes on a daily basis, Andrew forces himself to practice by taking photographs during his commute. He purposely hops off the train one or two stops from where he works to walk and shoot.

How to Apply This to Your Daily Life

If you take public transportation or live a reasonable distance from your office, try walking more and take photos along the way — with your camera or phone.

Even if you’re walking the same route every weekday, you’re forcing yourself to get creative, find new perspectives, and get a little exercise while you’re at it.

Andrew committed himself to posting a photo from his commute each day on Instagram to ensure he stuck with it. Even if your photos aren’t award-winning quality, it’s more about the habit of consistently honing your compositional skills.

I’ve found over the years that my skills organically improved without me noticing simply by staying consistent. I cringe at times when reviewing images I took in the past, but this also means that I can be proud of how far I’ve come.

Learn More

You can follow Andrew Marr on Instagram or subscribe to his YouTube channel if you found these tips helpful.