Composition-Beyond the Rule of Thirds


Lesson Info

Lesser Known Compositions

These are some of the lesser knowns, but still awesome compositions. They are used more traditionally by painters. But they are just as applicable for photographers. These are very simple, very, very simple. But we have the triangle, we have the S or the Z curve, and we have the L-Shape composition. Again, triangles, L-Shape and the S or the Z curve. First, we'll talk about the triangle. This potentially could be overall, it could direct the entire scene. Hey, we got a big triangle. Great. It can also be within a scene. It doesn't have to be corner to corner. It can be a small element within the scene. It can be a secondary compositional element. So, maybe you've got a rule of thirds happening but you have other elements over here creating a triangle in some capacity; to create a relationship between the objects. Really strong compositions and really successful compositions often utilize multiple compositional devices and techniques in itself. So it may not necessarily follow one guide...

, it may follow multiples and that's okay. This is Liberty Leading the People by Eugène Delacroix. And I love this painting. This is, again, talking about those idea of layers. If you squint a little bit, see if you can see and recognize where that triangle is. And now let's see if you're right. The triangle is actually the most stable shape. And this triangle composition actually takes on a whole new meaning when you consider the base of liberty is on those people that have died for it. And actually adds a cool interesting extra amount of depth to that composition. We have the L shape. You see this a lot in landscape photography, which is basically having vertical object on one corner and some kind of a foreground and then you have a background object as well. That one's pretty simple and straightforward. We have the S or the Z curve which are primarily the same thing, just one is a little bit more flowier and one is a little bit more jagged. And they both create different compositional feelings. But, just about how you move the eye through the frame.

You know the basics of composition – now take it to the next level. Good composition is more than following a strict set of rules and guidelines. In fact, those very things can stifle your creativity and make your work fade into the pack of other photographers. In this class, Chris Knight shows you that there is more to composition than a few lines – it’s about creating balance in an image. He’ll introduce the Gestalt Principle and encourage you to look beyond the rule of thirds and utilize contrast, leading lines and more for interesting and dynamic images.



  • I have to say, perhaps if you are an academic or a college trained photographer/artist/painter etc., this may be old hat to you. However, if you are like me and have never been exposed to definitions and descriptions of composition, this was a shock-and-awe inspiring reveal of these artistic concepts. I can guarantee I will watch these over and over again while I try to absorb even a little of this material, but Creative Live could make an all day class of this guy explaining this material. material he quite obviously loves and uses and his passion for the subject matter is very obvious. This class is making me consider a trip back to the campus to get more information on this subject. Quick, contract Chris Knight to develop a whole class before I end up in college!!! Highly recommend this class.
  • What a FANTASTIC presentation! I loved it. Best instruction I have ever seen/read as a graphic designer for 33 years. I majored in art and graphic communications in college before becoming a designer. Well done Chris. Definitely buying the class.
  • Excellent information. I would have liked a little more examples in some of the composition rules, but I liked the content. Recommended for some one who is beggining or needs to reinforce composition