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composition is the soul of an image,this is the first thing we look for in an image and comment upon. there are many rules of a good composition. i feel one of most important but less discussed is the simplicity of composition. as a rule ,’ simpler the better’

here i quote from Bruce barbaum’s book ‘the art of photography’

‘For the beginner, simplicity is a necessity. The simpler the composition, the more likely he or she is to maintain control and direct the viewer’s attention to theimportant elements. It is equally true for the intermediate or advanced photographer, though with increased experience and sophistication he or she is able to simplifyand control progressively more complex situations. This is true of painters and sculptors as well as photographers—and of all other visual artists. It is even true ofcomposers, with the modification that the concept applies to listeners rather than viewers.The importance of simplicity cannot be stressed too strongly. Over the years, I have observed that most unsuccessful photographs fail because they are too complicated(assuming that they are technically competent, of course) rather than too simple. The photographer is unable to elucidate his thoughts clearly and concisely, and theresulting photograph illustrates his uncertainty and lack of direction. In some cases, this may produce exactly the desired effect, but in most cases it will not.’

in every image, we (especially the beginners) should try to analyse the image in terms of lines,pattern,shape,form, texture and colors; and attempt to focus and present only one aspect of composition at a time. crowded cluttered images may be good pictures but fall short of artistic standard

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How true Bruce's words are; and they speak to the deeper issue.  How clear is your vision?  Composition is loosely defined as the division of space and placement of elements within that space.  The reason photographs are too complicated, many times, is that the maker either can't figure the decisions out, or doesn't see the need for the decisions (what to include, exclude and how to combine the elements).  I'm glad to see that there are others who think the commonly known "rules of composition" are an artificial imposition into personal vision.

Very true nathan. in fact the word 'rules' somehow gives an impression of something being rigid,inviolable. some times i feel the word 'principles of composition' would at least be better. 

it would convey a meaning, as helpful guidelines, which are useful for a better , artistic image but which may be ignored or changed if needed.

That is another good term to name the principles of composition and design. but every one, who wants to improve skill and raise his/her status from a photographer to an artist must have a thorough understanding and command on composition and design. only then he/she would be in a position to deviate.

totally agreed with your words

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