Picture composition, etc

There are many books and videos on good photography. This page is intended as a beginners’ guide, not a comprehensive treatise on pictorial technique. But one thing is worth mentioning to beginners and experts alike:

Always use a tripod

Except when you can’t, of course. Most of the rest is just common sense.

Screen space

More and more people are using tablets and telephones to view content, so don’t waste screen area.

The Golden Mean

Intersecting thirds. Don’t just chuck your centre of interest in the middle of the screen: try the horizon one third up from the bottom, or the windmill on the left of the screen.


Try not to let the edge of frame cut on a body joint.

Looking / Walking room

I believe the US term for this is nose room! Somebody walking or looking to the right needs roughly two thirds space on the right, one third on the left.

Lens choice

If you want the viewer to feel for the girl who’s getting ready for a dangerous stunt, use a narrow angle lens and wide aperture to defocus the background.

A wide-angle lens isn’t so often used, but might be right in a comedy production.


A film screen has height and width, but it’s flat. you can add depth (at least the illusion of depth) with careful framing and/or lighting.

Movement in depth is even better. Towards the camera is best – as long as that suits the story.

Overlap action

I you want a shot of a man walking to his car, start him inside the house, and keep shooting until he’s well out of shot.

Easy perfect framing

Nineteen times out of twenty, if you get the right angle on your subject, start wide, then zoom in until you like the shot, it will be good.

And please take care!

I’ve put it here as a joke – but in the heat of a busy shoot, it’s easy to do this sort of thing. Three things wrong here; can you spot them all?