Four Common Composition Mistakes and How To Fix Them

Ever wonder why a photo is good but not great when you look at it? Even the smallest adjustments and angles can make a big difference. Knowing how to spot these errors early will help you compose yourself during photo shoots. Pay attention to details that will make your shots stand out.

Evan mentions four very common mistakes. Let’s take them apart, so you don’t get lost next time.

You don’t have to worry about the lighting. Although lighting can be corrected during editing, the most common mistake is overpowering the eye. Because each photograph should have a visual hierarchy, subject size is important.

If you look at an image with 2 subjects of the same size (e.g., Evan’s girl and waterfall), you may not know which subject to focus on. The chances of a subpar photograph are slim to none if there is nothing that stands out concerning what you have included in the shot.

This can be fixed by paying attention to how large your subject is concerning other subjects. Evan’s final shot was made possible by a simple adjustment in the subject’s position.


When referring to leading lines, we often think of the visible lines in a photograph that guide the eye towards the main subject. Eyeliners are often a key component of a great composition. The person’s eyeliner looking at you directs our attention and leads us into the composition.

It can be confusing if your subject is looking out from the composition. This is an example of an interesting shot divided by eyeliner.

Although it is not necessary to have your subject look inwardly, in this instance, looking out of the frame does not do justice to the image. You can invite the audience back into the shot if you adjust some details.

Although there is not much difference in focus, this glance and placement help the eye create a more balanced composition.

Tangent lines

Tangent lines are imaginary lines drawn by objects within a frame and point to a particular object. This assists in guiding the eye to the desired spot. This is best illustrated in a classic composition, where the road lines lead to the horizon.

Although tangent lines are wonderful and allow for more experimentation, sometimes compositions can be affected by lines that cut through the subject.

Evan’s shot of trees disrupts the composition and takes away the focus. What can you do to fix this? Reconsider and adjust for something similar:

The trees can still be seen in the image. However, the leading lines direct the eye to the subject and the flowing fabric blowing in the wind. This composition technique is powerful and should be used to create better shots.

Be lazy with perspective.

This made me realize that I also fall into this category (admit it, you’ve done it too). Sometimes you want to snap the picture with your slightly drawn hands. You’re done! Well, wrong! Here’s an example.

Here’s a photo of a dog from “the lazy angle”. This is a quick shot, and it’s an angle that doesn’t consider composition. Evan points out that squatting down takes only 4 seconds and can drastically change the composition of your entire image.

This is what makes a story-telling image different from a snappy photo. This can be avoided by not taking photos at eye level. Instead, consider what angle you could take to magnify your subject. It means zooming in, moving closer and then thinking about the result.

You can change your perspective, and your compositions will change. Evan’s tutorial was great, and I wanted to share it as all four examples are too common. You’ll know what to do if you’ve experienced similar mishaps. Get out there and do what you want!


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