6 Key Tips for Composing Your Photos

Updated: June 16, 2014 Mpix Support Guest Post, Photos, Tips

Photography Tips

Jill Marzion is a family photographer located in the Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

A couple years ago, I decided to purchase a decent camera to photograph my children. I was looking for a fun hobby and it just so happened that I had four adorable subjects (my kiddos!) to practice on. After snapping tons and tons of photos, as well as reading and attending a few photography classes, I was blown away at how my photography improved due to a few simple ideas. You have the ability to create timeless snaps that capture genuine emotion and vivid detail; all it takes is a little help and practice!

My 6 Key Tips for Composing Photos:

Rule of thirds.   When you are framing your shot think of your screen being divided up into nine equal parts by two horizontal lines and two vertical lines. If you position your subject near the lines or points of intersection, the image becomes more visually appealing.



Change your viewpoint.  Before you grab your camera and snap away, think of unique ways to change the view. I believe we naturally tend to shoot straight on, but if you get creative and try new viewpoints, you can change the feel of the image drastically. Get high or low, focus on hands or the back of your subject!




Look for frames + lines.  Frames and lines help pull your eye to the subject when used correctly. Using a doorway or a hanging tree branch can help wrap around your subject. Lines often direct your eye’s attention to the subject or focus of the photograph. Fences, paths or patterns on blankets are all great for creating lines.




Keep it simple.  I tend to keep things very simple and clean. My OCD struggles with clutter. Pay attention to your background and take a minute or two to move lights or toys that may distract from the story you are trying to tell.


Tell a story.  Being aware of what you are trying to photograph can greatly improve your images. So completely contradicting what I said in the previous tip, sometimes keeping objects in an image can better tell your story.  A child making a mess with toys, or encounters with the things you use in your daily life captures the true moments!



Make your own rules.  This is probably the most important tip… don’t ever be afraid to break a rule or try something new. It is too easy to get caught up in what you should or shouldn’t do, but what really matters is if you love the image and it makes you happy.  So, don’t hold back and just keeping shooting!


For more photography tips from Jill, check out her post Capturing the EverydayTo check out more amazing work from Jill Marzion visit her websiteblog and Instagram.

31 Responses to “6 Key Tips for Composing Your Photos”

  1. June 18, 2014 at 1:04 pm #

    What camera do you use?

    • June 18, 2014 at 10:22 pm #

      i shoot with a canon mark iii!

  2. Pamela Duncan June 18, 2014 at 2:27 pm #

    Awesome photos to reinforce your tips. Thanks!

    • June 18, 2014 at 10:22 pm #

      thanks pamela! i am glad you enjoyed it!

  3. Lisa Johnson June 18, 2014 at 4:30 pm #

    What camera did you purchase? Brand, model, etc… Thank you and I love your tips, make total sense and I am going to adopt them all!

    • June 18, 2014 at 10:24 pm #

      i shoot with a canon mark iii. best way to improve is to just keep snapping away! have fun 🙂

      • Lisa Johnson June 19, 2014 at 9:21 am #

        Thanks Jill and that is exactly what I will keep doing, snapping away! I have a Nikon and lot of my friends have Canon and I am trying to learn how to use my Nikon so I am taking some classes. Have a great summer!

  4. June 18, 2014 at 8:21 pm #

    I find it a little funny, but typical, that 2 of the first 3 comments ask what camera Jill uses. Jill took the good photos – not her camera. I believe that she could have taken the same photos with a $200 or $2000 camera or anything in between.
    Mpix – thanks for providing these tips from time to time. Thanks also for your fast service and quality products.

    • June 19, 2014 at 9:15 am #

      Thanks Mark, glad to see that you enjoy reading stuff from our guest photographers!

    • June 19, 2014 at 9:13 pm #

      thanks mark! i really appreciate your comment 🙂

    • October 10, 2015 at 10:42 pm #

      If you are young and flexible, any camera will do. Nowadays, cameras with a tiltable LCD are a huge asset. One of Jill’s points is to vary perspective. This does make buying an affordable camera a tough decision. I have an Olympus XZ-2 which has a tiltable LCD. I love it. However, I have several nice Nikon lens I’d like to use on a new camera. I’m caught between the d7200 & the d5500. I can fully use all of my old lens with the d7200 –but it doesn’t have the tiltable LCD like the d5500. I’d like to sell some of my work, especially portraits. Any ideas anybody. I’m 72 and have very active dogs and grandchildren. (You know I can use the XZ-2 some and the d7200 some. ? answered. Thanks.)

  5. June 18, 2014 at 10:32 pm #

    Asking about the brand and model of the camera is a lot like asking a cook what brand and model of stove he/she uses. Sure, there are differences, but the important part is the person behind the instrument! 😉

    • June 19, 2014 at 9:13 pm #

      your comment made my day! thanks darkroom diva 🙂

  6. June 19, 2014 at 8:12 am #

    Great tips and I love that you provided photos that illustrate your tip/point. And adorable kiddos too 🙂 Thanks!

    • June 19, 2014 at 9:14 pm #

      thanks angie! can’t argue your last comment 😉 xo

  7. June 19, 2014 at 10:54 am #

    Jill — I love the photos you have included here with your helpful tips! Thanks for sharing!! Do you have a favorite lens with which you shoot?

    • June 19, 2014 at 9:15 pm #

      hey kathie!

      the 35 1.4 rarely leaves my camera! but i also love the 50 1.4 and 24-70. hope that helps!

  8. June 19, 2014 at 4:49 pm #

    A good camera is a help – no doubt about that. However many people with a more expensive camera than my 60D take terrible photos. I also use an inexpensive Canon PowerShot – I’ve sold many photos taken with that camera and it has setting that allows you to alter the depth of field.

  9. June 19, 2014 at 4:50 pm #

    I’m more interested in what lens(es) you use. This info won’t take away from the fact that you are the artist and your photos are very candid, creative and real, but the lens can in fact change your perspective a bit. Great post and info btw. Thanks!

  10. Roxy June 21, 2014 at 9:10 am #

    Enjoyed reading your tips plus all comments.

  11. jayme June 23, 2014 at 12:50 pm #

    Your shots were great!! I also agree with the comments referring tothe kind of camera you use. It is such a personal choice! The brands all offer spectacular features but to me, most importantly, it is how it feels in your hand! After researching and holding many, many cameras, I chose my Sony a series and I love it!

  12. July 6, 2014 at 2:20 pm #

    When I show up at events with my 20D, I have had people say, “Oh, wow, you have an expensive camera; you’re going to get some good shots. I have finally quit trying to explain that it’s the person behind the camera that really counts. The camera isn’t doing the thinking or composing.

    Good tips, all.

    • Maribeth February 10, 2016 at 7:43 am #

      Tha’ts going to make things a lot easier from here on out.

  13. January 6, 2015 at 11:54 am #

    I just love your blog.. Love the simplicity of the layout and the photos! What wordpress theme are you using?

    • January 6, 2015 at 12:07 pm #

      Thanks Dave, we actually coded our theme ourselves!

  14. learn photography February 26, 2015 at 6:52 am #

    Thanks for finally talking about >6 Key Tips for Composing
    Your Photos | Mpix Blog <Loved it!

  15. March 6, 2015 at 11:30 pm #

    Thanks for sharing your tips, beautiful pictures. I would like to see some tips regarding DOF. I have Nikon Coolpix p600

  16. Tampa Family Photographer June 16, 2015 at 2:50 pm #

    Super tips and I loved the examples that went along with them. Lots to think about!


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