For the Love of Photography: Composition Tips

time flies message

I have one tool that snaps me into the present moment like nothing else: my camera.  It my passport to living in the “now.”  As author and photographer Jan Phillips wrote so eloquently in God is at Eye Level: 

“We heal ourselves in the act of photographing by being fully present to the moment at hand. When we stand on the edge of that which is, we are released from the yoke of what has been, detached from the fear of what might be. There is only the moment, the light, the matter of our vision.  All is peace in eternal now.”

In case you are interested in exploring photography this year, this post might be for you!  I am sharing composition tips, my favorite books and including a list of teachers who inspire me.  Of course, I am not a professional photographer.  I am simply on a journey to find sacred in the ordinary.  I hope you find something that resonates – whether you use your phone’s camera, a point and shoot or a DSLR.

Five Composition Tips

1.) You don’t always have to include the entire subject to create a beautiful image. Experiment with capturing only a part of your subject.  Sometimes a shadow, or other simplistic elements, evoke the viewer’s imagination.
ordinary creative averi horse
adyson eyelashes
 2.) Play with creative positioning.  We tend to want to center our subject and make everything symmetrical, but altering the position of our subjects creates beautiful images.missy
missy walk bw and pink (1) IMG_4656
3.) Change up your perspective.  Shoot low or shoot high (I stand on tables or lay on the ground sometimes!).  I love the altered view from shooting low.



4.) Frame your shot.  Framing is the process of using objects within your photograph to frame your primary subject.  It brings depth to your picture drawing your eye to the photo’s main subject.  Photograph a face through a window frame. Or use tunnels, gates, natural elements or whatever you can find.

ordinary creative frame your shot chicago


5.) Use leading lines to guide your viewer to your subject.  In my photos below, the fence and the child’s arm gently guide your eye to the image’s primary subject.


ordinary creative tiny toes


Five Admired Photographers / Teachers

I was honored to participate in a Vision Quest Workshop led by Douglas Beasley last year. He teaches all over the world, offering a wide array of photography classes like Shooting as a Spiritual Practice.  He emphasizes the creative process over the mechanics of cameras.  To read more about Douglas, click here and explore his spectacular portfolio of images.  His work is featured in galleries throughout the world.

And then there is Ashley Anne… If a photo is worth a thousand words, an Ashley Anne photo is worth 10,000 words. I participated in her online DSLR class.  In the course, Ashley gently guides you off Auto to shooting in Manual.  She is gifted in helping you find the extraordinary in the mundane and documenting your everyday.

I hope to one day participate in a class led by Lynne Harty, an Asheville, NC based photographer.

If you haven’t been inspired by Elena Shumilova – promise me you will click here to get a glimpse of her artistic portfolio.   She captures light and natural elements like no other.

Finally, I love Instagram and discovered Jill Emmer’s whimsical photos via her account – creatively named @shineonyoucraydiamond!  She inspires me with every single post.

Five Favorites: Shooting with Soul


I highly recommend each book featured in the photo above.  Perched on top is my current favorite: The Unforgettable Photograph, by George Lange.  George believes that “to take truly beautiful photos you must be truly living in the present moment.” He is the Elkhart Tolle of photography.

If you prefer a technical read with details on suggested settings for various situations, dive into a Scott Kelby book.  I love how he talks technical but manages to weave humor into his pages.

The Jan Phillips book was a recommendation by Douglas Beasley.  It is a holy book on the power of connecting to the sacred.  In her book Jan says, “The real thing about photography, is that it brings you home to yourself. Every step in the process is a step toward the light, an encounter with the God who is at eye level, whose image I see wherever I look.”

Please note I am not an affiliate and if that ever changes, you will be the first to know. 
MoMA ordinary creative jump

Giveaway Update:

In my most recent post, I talked about jumping for joy and a giveaway!  I found five issues of the Bella Grace winter issue to gift to Kathleen, Sarah, Jasmine, Michon & Karen – those who commented through 1/27/16.  I will be in touch with you to confirm shipping details.  I am humbly honored to be featured on page 42 of the winter issue.

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2 thoughts on “For the Love of Photography: Composition Tips

  1. kathleen January 28, 2016 at 6:20 pm Reply

    I’m so excited and cant wait to see page 42 of Bella Grace! Am loving my word for 2016. You help me “awaken” through your ordinary creative inspiration!

  2. Jasmine January 28, 2016 at 8:28 pm Reply

    Stunning photographs and enlightening words, as always. It’s as if the aperture of your camera actually allows you to see a broader view! Or perhaps photography forces us to slow enough to catch a glimpse of the One that is above time…

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