Oh my! So much has been said about composition as it relates to photography that I hesitate to even broach the subject; but since this is a blog about photography, broach it I must.
The first decision you have to make as a photographer is ‘what am I going to photograph?’ Photographers shoot anything and everything from galaxies to molecules, so the answer really is you can photograph whatever you want.
Typically, we start out shooting something/anything that captures our interest, a sunset, a mountain, a funky house, a cute girl/boy, the cat, etc. Some of the pictures we like, some we reject. The key to improving our photography and taking better pictures is taking the time to understand why we like some but not others.
But before we talk about possible reasons why we like one image and not another, let’s talk about subjects and focal points.
The subject of an image considers the whole scene. The focal point is something unique, usually small, that breaks the scene and calls attention to a specific area of the image. These concepts are probably most easily explained through examples.
In this image the subject is the Huayhuash mountain range in Peru. The focal point is Mitch.
(Fujifilm X100T, 23mm, 1/160s, f11, ISO 200, IR Conversion)
The subject of this image is my family’s 4th of July celebration, the focal point is my nephew’s grass stalk.
(Samsung SGH-N919, 4.2mm, 1/120s, f2.2, ISO 80)
In this last image the subject is clearly the colorful hills of Paria, Utah; the focal point is the truck.
(Canon 5DMMII, EF70-300 @ 220mm, 1/25s, f8.0, ISO 400)
Not all images have a focal point, but they all must have a subject.