Incorporating Layering Composition Into Your Photography

Considering the way you wish to compose your point of interest within the frame, and the rest of the key elements in your image, is essential to any good photograph. That is why composition is such a significant aspect of photography.


Visually speaking, the most striking photographs contain elements that allow your eye to be led through the image and bounce from one object to the next in a way that’s visually compelling. 

There are a variety of compositional styles and often employing a mix of them helps to create a more interesting collection of images.


One of the more intriguing methods utilized in composition is called “layering”. This technique involves using foreground, subject and background so that all layers of the images work together to help tell a comprehensive story.


There are a variety of reasons you might employ layering in your composition. One would be to balance out the rest of the composition:


This image was shot using the Nikon D800 with the 24-70 f2.8 lens at f11, 1/125, ISO 1000




Another would be to create a more dynamic image by adding elements that help your eye move through the frame, to your subject:

This image was shot using the Nikon D4 with the 70-200 f2.8 lens at f4.5, 1/160, ISO 640





Another might be to emphasize delineations in a frame through a striking use of color:

This photo was shot using the Nikon D4 with the 85mm f1.4 lens at f2.2, 1/320, ISO 2000




Yet another would be to show parallel, or juxtaposed, movement between multiple subjects in a frame, usually to emphasize drama, depth or humor:

This photo was shot using the Nikon D4 with the 35mm f1.4 lens at f5.6, 1/320, ISO 900




And then there is the use of layering to help emphasize size, scale, or presence:

This photo was shot using the Nikon D800 with the 85m f1.4 lens at f3.2, 1/160, ISO 200



There are many more uses of layering composition in imagery and practicing a variety of techniques will help you discover your favorite. Since layering is most effective when it’s adding a storytelling element to your overall photograph, keep these ideas in mind when you’re out there creating your next story!




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