Erotic Photography: Recipe for Good Composition

Good composition is such a core element to good photography that it can literally make or break a shot. Yet for something so fundamentally important, it can be strangely hard to define. In some ways it is similar to sex: there are lots of ways to make it good, but you definitely know when its bad! However that's not all that helpful when you're trying to answer the question: just what IS good composition?

Rather than a strict set of rules, it may be more beneficial to look at compositional elements the way one might view ingredients when creating a meal. Below is a list of 'ingredients' you can pull out of your photographic pantry to put together the tasty visual dish that is a great looking sexy photo:

Patterns: Repetitions in fabric textures, architectural elements, light sources, shadows, etc. are everywhere if you look for them. Highlighting and emphasizing these patterns and the places the patterns get broken up can lead to stunning shots.

Symmetry: A symmetrical shot (think mirror image) with strong composition and a good point of interest can lead to a striking image. Asymmetry can also add visual punch. Play with both.

Texture: Take a two dimensional object, add a pinch of texture and pow! now you've got an image that almost seems to come alive. This is particularly true when light hits textured objects on an interesting angle, such as candlelight on a leg in a fishnet stocking.

Depth of Field: The depth of field you choose in your shot can drastically impact its composition. The subject can be isolated from its background when using a shallow depth of field (often referred to as blurring the background). Alternately, the subject can be placed in the same context as the background by using a larger depth of field. For example, blurring the background so your scantily clad model stands out from furniture in the background looks very different than keeping all the elements in the same focus.

Lines: Lines draw the eye to key focal points in a photo and greatly impact the ‘feel’ of an image. Lines that are diagonal, horizontal, vertical and converge all impact images differently and should be taken into account when framing to strengthen the photo. For example, if you place your model in a doorway you will get a very different look if you have her place her limbs so that her body is in an 'X' position than if she is standing with her legs together and arms at her side.

Space: There are times when filling your frame with your subject creates a sense of intimacy and connection. Other times, giving your subject space to breath is what works best in the shot. Sometimes it is what you leave out of an image that makes it amazing. Some of the sexiest pics out there are the ones where you only see a set of smoldering lips, and others are of a model lying in a giant field. Play with both to see what works best for each shot.

Balance: Whether a photo feels balanced or unbalanced definitely impacts its visual appeal. Too much going on in one section of your image can leave it feeling too ‘heavy’ in that area and the rest feeling ‘empty.’ An awareness of the balance of the photo when capturing it can be helpful in achieving the look you want.

Rule of odds: By and large, images are more visually appealing when there is an odd number of subjects. Studies have shown that people are actually more at ease and comfortable when viewing imagery with an odd number of subjects. That doesn't have to mean the number of people, it can be anything. One naked girl and two props, or two lingerie clad models and one flower filled vase. So, as long as the main focal elements add up to an odd number your photo will generally be more visually appealing.

The are literally dozens of elements that can be used to create an appealing composition. The key is to remember that just like a chef rarely uses all the ingredients in their cupboard when creating an gourmet meal—a photographer rarely uses all of the ingredients of composition in the making of an image. Pick the most delicious ones for the task at hand and then sit back in revel in the results!

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