Composition: Simplicity

I was walking the halls of WordPress, peering into different blogs, when I was stopped by a quote I found posted by Daytime Reading:

“Literature differs from life in that life is amorphously full of detail, and rarely directs us toward it, wheras literature teaches us to notice. Literature makes us better noticers of life; we get to practice on life itself; which in turn makes us better readers of detail in literature; which in turn makes us better readers of life.”

— James Wood, How Fiction Works

I just love that phrase “amorphously full of detail,” and I certainly agree with the quote. I would add that photography, as another form of art, fulfills a very similar role.

It creates beauty out of the very ordinary and implicates the depths of the untold story.

The best photographic way of capturing a moment, I’ve often found, is to capture the details, and to focus on the simplicity of your surroundings and therefore your shot.


These kinds of bare-bones shots work especially well for food photography (adding backdrops and “props” to your culinary compositions often take away from the aesthetic of the actual item), but also for travel photography, when you find yourself frantically trying to find a way to record the loud sights all around you. Sticking with simple, but descriptive shots, can create a travel album that helps you remember the day-to-day charm of your trip or just your life.

Simple Guidelines for Simply Engaging Photos:

  • Seek out textures to create interest. Compose your shot with a sharp and close focus, and edit to enhance the crisp lines or doughy curves of your subject. For editing, this often means playing with contrast, so good lighting is important when shooting!


  • Pay attention to space. Because your subject is a single item, the space you include in your shot will provide an intriguing context for the viewer. I love how this shot creates a kind of contrast between the elegantly shaped door, with its deep paint and architectural depth, and the realities of the street it stands on.


  • While the idea of space is important to consider when taking your shot, also think about filling the frameThis brings a level of intensity and intimacy to your subject, and is often the easiest way to take a simple, classy photo. Like in this photo, a good use of color can make your image memorable.


Have fun keeping it basic!



2 thoughts on “Composition: Simplicity

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