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Composition and Impressionist Photography
13 Jan 2018

Composition and Impressionist Photography

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Simply recording the subject with a camera is easy, but taking great impressionist photographs requires a totally different approach. In fact, impressionist images are one of the most difficult to capture successfully. It isn’t easy to catch the drama, depth, colour and atmosphere of a scene, as these attributes can easily be lost in the photograph itself. It’s not always a question of what to include in the composition; more often it is what to exclude, in order to concentrate attention on the most important part of the scene before you.

[bctt tweet=”When it comes to composition there are no “shoulds”.” username=”evapolak”]

When it comes to composition there are no “shoulds”. As a creative artist, you use ideas about composition to express your personal view of the world. Before beginning a photoshoot, think about what you want it to say. Why do you want to photograph this particular subject? Is it the pattern you find most interesting, the play of light and colour, the juxtaposition of forms, a flow of movement, or something else? Whatever it is, this is the idea of your composition — the one thing you want the image to get across to your viewer. Choose a point of view and arrange all the elements of your image to give prominence to your idea. Rather than trying to say everything, say one thing. Everything else is of lesser importance. Aiming toward your idea, you have a destination — something specific to accomplish.

Always explore the location of your subject first. Walk around, keeping an eye out for interesting foreground elements or lead-in lines. Once you have found a likely shooting position consider how to compose the scene. Try both vertical and horizontal formats to see which might work better. The subject itself will often suggest a format. For example, the rose bush is vertical in shape, but the horizontal format allows some context for the roses.


A focal point can be an important compositional tool in impressionist photography, as it can provide the eye with somewhere to rest within the image. A focal point needs to be eye-catching. It is also important to avoid including any elements that could potentially distract the viewer’s attention away from the main subject. Simplicity is often the key to composing a successful impressionist photograph.

Impressionist photography is a very subjective art. As an impressionist photographer you will need to develop your own ideas on what makes a good image, and take time to consider exactly what a successful photograph looks like for you. There is no better way to improve your skills than to get out with your camera as often as possible.

beach scene by Eva Polak

If you need help and guidance my online courses will help and inspire you to make striking, atmospheric and technically proficient impressionist photographs on a consistent basis.