One of our recent assignments in my Intermediate Photography class was Composition. Basically composition is the foundation for any good photograph. You need to be aware of how you are composing your photo. There are tons of "rules" for composition. Actually they are more like guidelines. You can always start with the basic rules and if you don't like your picture you throw out the rules and compose your picture in the way that makes for the best picture.
Some of the basic rules are:
1. Rule of Thirds this means while you are looking through the view finder - mentally put a grid on it. Two vertical lines and two horizontal lines. Put your subject or object of interest (SOI) in one of the intersections of these lines. It puts your SOI off centered which creates a more appealing picture than just sticking it straight in the middle.
2. Framing. With framing you "frame" your SOI with something in the picture. A doorway, trees, a window, etc. It helps to automatically draw your eye into your SOI. With these pictures I used the tree branches to frame my kids.
3. Fill the frame. Fill your viewfinder with your SOI. Why have other stuff competing for attention with your SOI.
4. Depth of Field. This goes kind of with Fill the Frame (at least in my opinion) Use a large aperture (small F-stop number) to blur out the background. Again why have other stuff competing for attention with your SOI. If you can't get it out of the frame at least make it blurry. Your mind will pretty much disregard the blurry stuff and be drawn to your SOI which is in focus.
5. Contrast Use dark and light contrasts to draw the attention to your subject. Your eye will be drawn to the contrast.
The photo above combines quite a few of the composition "rules" including some I haven't mentioned yet.
Rule of thirds, contrast, framing, and leading lines.
When you train your mind to look at the world through the composition "rules" you start to see them everywhere. You also train yourself to take better pictures. Also remember there are times to throw them all out. You may find you love that picture best of all.
I would love to see your pictures of composition.