5 Elements of Photography

5 Elements of Photography

What makes a photo pop? Oftentimes, we have photos of common things composed in an ordinary fashion. It’s because we always look at a subject in a single theme or perspective. To make striking photos, we have to move away from the convention and look at ordinary scenes in an extraordinary view. It doesn’t have to be overly edited nor filtered. Today, we will look at the elements of photography (which is similar to elements of art) that can turn a simple subject into a breathtaking one.

Engaging photos rely on order, and the main elements that bring and emphasize order in a composition are: line, shape, form, texture, pattern, and color. Every picture taken, intentionally or not, contains one or more of these element, which are known as the 5 elements of photography.


The presence or absence of light changes the mood of the photo

Light is the fundamental element all photographs need because it illuminates the scene or subject. Whether it be natural or artificial light the quality and direction of light is what’s important. Light helps to create a particular mood within the photograph and can bring emphasis to key elements within a frame. Likewise, light can help create depth and textures in an image by creating a mix of highlights and shadows.

Everyone knows there have been countless books and tutorials on this subject and this article isn’t the place to go into depth with this. However, we should recognize that light is probably the most important tool we have to use as photographers to create better quality and beautiful images.


Colors provide more variation on your photo. It directs the eyes of the viewer to every corners of the image..

Like light, color helps to set the mood of an image and can play a significant role in touching the viewer on an emotional level. Color is one of the main factors responsible for making a photo feel mysterious, exciting, sad, or gloomy. Evoking emotions is important in creating strong images and color is one of our primary tools to do this. Again, this is an in-depth topic which this article will not go into, but be thoughtful that by using appropriate colors in our images we can better convey different emotions and make a stronger impact on the viewer.


Moment is when you capture extraordinary photos that require timing are are taken on a specific time

A strong moment is more than highlighting a particular subject or action in time. Creating a moment in a photograph should be about having all the elements in a frame come together as to tell a captivating story. When every part of the picture interacts with the other parts in a way that the viewer might think – wow this is special and probably doesn’t happen that often. Not every photo will be able to have special moments where all the parts come together perfectly, but again we should be thinking about this when shooting so we can try to include more elements that create a stronger moment.


Composition provides order to your photo by assigning a definite location for your subject, your foreground and the background

Composition, in essence, is about putting together objects in your frame in such a way as to emphasize the parts you want to and make them stand out in a particular way. Composition can often be very subjective, but good composition can turn an ordinary scene into an image that grabs the viewers attention. There are numerous rules, principals and guidelines for creating better composed images, but in the end it’s up to the photographer to find something that works for the given situation

There is still a huge amount of learning to do, but by studying others photos and getting out to shoot we will inevitably improve our composition skills. Creating relevant and good compositions is a key element of great photographs.


Distance provides a sense of nearness or farness on your subject against the background.

The distance the photographer chooses to be from their subject will affect the feeling and overall impact a photo has. It will also determine what focal length you need to shoot at in order to get all of the important parts of the photo into the frame. Like with all of these five tools/elements there is no right or wrong way, per se. It will vary depending on the situation and what the photographer wants to accomplish. That being said, certain images are more powerful if shot closer to the subject, making the viewer feel like they are there. Other images look much better at a further distance from the subject. There should be a thought process though about why we choose to be certain distances from our subjects and how that will make the final image look.

All photos on 5 Elements of Photography article are taken with Huawei P20 Pro on Pro Mode

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