Photography Paper 2 May/June 2015

Question 3

  1. What is composition in photography?
  2. List four elements of composition.
  3. Explain any three of the elements listed in (b) above.


This question attracted most of the candidates and some of these candidates defined composition in English language. Some of the candidates also failed to list the four elements of composition as required. These inadequate responses earned the candidates poor marks. Candidates should have responded with some of the following points:

(a)        -           It is the selection and arrangement of the subject within the picture area
-           It is the visual arrangement of elements within a scene.

-           This is a process where a photographer attempts to co-ordinate
everything within the frame for the image to appear visually interesting. This is done using some elements to achieve the desired goal. Some of these elements are: Centre of interest, angle, balance, texture, colour, line, shape, etc. However, all these mentioned elements are not necessarily expected to be present in all images as they are mere visual guides.
(i)         Line    
(ii)        Shape
(iii)       Colour
(iv)       Centre of interest/focus
(v)        Angle
(vi)       Texture
(vii)      Closeness
(viii)     Balance
(ix)       Pattern
(x)        Balance/ symmetry/ rule of third       

(c)        Line
-           It could be diagonal, horizontal, vertical or converging.          

-           It is used in photography to direct the eye to the main subject.
-           It could be real or imaginary
-           Its appearance can be influenced by camera angle
-           It can influence the mood of a shot
-           It is the distance between two points

-           It is two-dimensional.
-           It is used to structure a picture
-           It might consist of one object or several items seen together in a
way that forms a combination.
-           It is a means of relating two different objects in a picture.
-           It is made stronger when repeated into a pattern
-           It is emphasized by careful choice of viewpoints.
-           It is emphasized by the use of contrast within the frame


  • It is the dominant feature in a picture
  • It emphasizes important elements in a picture
  • It creates interesting contrast in a photograph
  • It becomes luminous and bright when placed within a black surrounding.
  • It looks darker when placed against white background.


Centre of Interest/focus

  • Its simplifies a photograph.
  • It improves the structure of a shot.
  • It can be placed where lines within the picture converge.
  • It can be created by using contrasting colours.
  • It can be created by placing an eye catalog shape around it.
  • It requires the right camera angle.
  • In photography, the center of interest is that particular spot where

the eye naturally rests in the frame.
-     The photographer can use several devices or a single lar element to
draw the eye of the viewer to the center of interest in the photograph.

  • A photograph without a centre of interest will not attract viewers’

-     It is used to situate a subject within a context.
-     Must not include such distractions as electricity pole, trees .
buildings and other objects if they are not telling any particular story.
-     A plain background makes a subject to stand out.


  • The camera position from where the image is taken.
  • Could be divided into 3 – Normal, low & High
  • Normal angle is taken from the usual eye-level position.
  • Low angle is usually taken from a stooping or squatting position that allows the photographer look up to the subject with the sky as the background
  • High Angle allows a photographer captures an image from an elevation with the camera pointing down.


  • Surface qualities such as roughness, smoothness, coarseness, etc.
  • It is effective in balancing the graphics in a frame


  • Deliberate lens focus that allows the subject or an interesting part either fill the frame or appear bigger
  • It allows intimacy between the viewers and the image
  • Aims at drawing viewer’s emotional response
  • Photographers often use a telephoto lens to achieve closeness


  • Repetition of lines and shapes often lead to creation of pattern as an element of composition in photography
  • Objects with similar characteristics such as colour, shape and texture do create a strong visual element that becomes pattern in photography.
  • It is used in directing viewers eyes within the frame
  • It is a strong visual element to strengthen and add interest to the

subject in focus.

  • It brings a sense of visual rhythm and harmony to a picture.

Balance/ Symmetry/ Rule of Third

  • Proper placement of subjects within the frame to create a visually interesting view point.
  • Can be achieved by using the imaginary nine grid lines on the frame, made popular by American Ansel Adams, where the subject is placed at any of the four intersections.