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Photography 101 | Angela Zhang

Photography 101

By Angela Zhang

Cameras are complicated. The settings, the lenses, the different brands, all the tiny buttons that sit on all parts of the camera…things can get frustrating. But believe it or not, good pictures don’t come from good cameras. Where cameras do help you to create a more high-quality photo, the different ways that you can play with the setting and adjust factors that a cell phone cannot do is the main reason why photographers purchase digital cameras and about fifty lenses for them. Here are some tips to a great photograph composition, whether you are using a camera or just a phone.

Rule of Thirds

This is probably the first compositional rule that any beginner photographer comes across. And that’s for a very good reason: it’s simple and it works. The basic premise is that you divide your camera’s frame into thirds. By planting key objects on these lines, the composition of the image works better. This is a tool that consistently works, but it is easy to overuse it. If you’ve not learned much about photography yet, it’s a great way of dramatically improving your photos.

Visual Weight

Visual weight differs in size or weight as we know it. It’s all about what we’re drawn to when we look at a photo. When you understand visual weight, you’ll start to understand how people look at photos and how you can position certain elements in a frame to direct the viewer’s attention to where you want them to look.


Shapes are very important in Photography. Triangles are in almost everything we see in one way or another, it’s just a case of distinguishing and knowing what to do with them. Triangles make great compositional tools as they’re easy to make and manipulate and are remarkably common. These are a great way to use the simplest and most basic photography compositions. They are also perfect for combining different compositional techniques. These include lines and paths, to create a more interesting part of a photograph.

White Balance

White balance is something I wish I’d learned more about much sooner than I did. I look back on some photos now and wonder what I was thinking. The white balance changes the color cast of the entire photo. It is responsible for the overall warmth. It can determine whether your photo appears blue or orange, cold or warm. Auto white balance doesn’t tend to do a particularly good job, particularly with tungsten light. The sooner you learn about this basic photography idea, the more accurate your photos will look.


If you take photos of people, you’re taking photos with eye lines. It’s important to understand the effect that eye lines have on how we view a photo. Eye-lines are the direction your subject’s eyes are pointed in. The negative space in front of the subject’s face is known as ‘lead room ‘. These have the ability to focus our attention on a particular part of the photo. They also produce tension and other photographic elements. Although they’re not physical lines, they can be used as such to produce different elements. These will help make triangles and vertical lines.

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