Composition is how a photograph is composed, how pleasing a photo is to the eye.
When you first start out in photography your first natural reaction is to place the subject in the center of the photo. Try and avoid this as it makes your photo flat and uninteresting. Unless doing close-up high contrast flash photography, in which it can give a photo a dynamic edge.
1. Rule of Thirds
The rule of third is quite simple. When looking through the view finder, split your rectangular view into thirds or nine rectangles as seen in the image below.
Ideally you should place your horizon on one of the horizontal lines and not in the middle of your photo. You would then place the subject on the line of the vertical lines. Lastly you would place your main focal point (Such as the body, head or eyes), on one of the cross sections. (indicated in diagram above with red circles).
2. Use of Lines
When you look through the view finder or screen, look out for lines or geometrical shapes that draw the eye into the main focus point, see my photo below. Lines are good for drawing attention to detail.
3. No Merges or Distractions
When composing you photo, look out for distractions that would conflict with the main subject. Such distractions could be litter, a lamp-post sticking from behind someone’s head, a cluttered background or even sometimes other people.
4. Use of light
Try and make sure you have the correct light for the subject you choose to shoot. After all you do not want your subject to look flat and lifeless. Or perhaps unwanted shadows that spoil the main features. With good use of light you can create great sense of mood and emotion for a picture.
If you can try and frame the picture through your view finder with a natural frame, such as a drooping tree branch, an archway, man-made geometrics shapes. It does add quality to the subject.
6. Be Creative
Use your imagination, try out ideas that pop into your head or techniques that you have learned. Such as reflections, night-photography, different weather or different ISO speeds and colour. After all a picture is what you make it to be.
To give you photo more meaningful depth, have something in the foreground, middle and background that all relate to each other. This will make your photo more interesting.
Composition shows that you as a photographer have really thought about the photo before capturing it. However there are times when these rules could and should be broken. And only you as a photographer through experience know when it feels right to do so.