Composition Lesson: Square Photo Review with Amol Nakve

by Korry Benneth

Monochromed Flower by Amol Nakve
"Monochromed Flower" by Amol Nakve. F/6.3, 1/500 Sec, ISO400, 300 mm.

Initial Thoughts

This is a very interesting approach to nature photography. It’s simple, it’s minimalistic, it’s black and white but yet it has a story to tell and looks wonderful.

Technically this photo is done right - the subject is clear and sharp with a shallow depth of field just, as it should be, and light is great but I would like to talk about two, actually three things that could have been done differently.

Square Format

Square formats are a rare and brave choice. They are great for when a subject fills the whole frame, for example in macro photography, and they’re ok in some other cases but unless you are able to fill the whole frame with colours or textures it’s better to avoid it. This photo looks good in the square format, however, with so much blank space around the subject it might have be better to leave it standard 3:4 format. Something like this:


Another thing you should pay attention to with this kind of photography are small distractions, in this case the dead flower head on the right. If you’re going for minimalism, go for it completely. Remove all distractions from the photo and leave only the subject and blurred background.

At the moment, if you look at this photo for more than few seconds you’ll realize your eyes are getting tired because they can’t rest on a subject nor travel in some order through the picture.


Your subject is almost perfectly centered in the middle of the square... That would normally be fine, but with a low contrast black and white photo and a fairly small subject it's not the best choice – Next time, consider either changing the format or going more macro.

Below, I will show you how to make a better composition. Every photo is virtually divided in nine parts. Since your photo is square instead of standard size, all squares are the same:

With your subject, these are the subject placements that would work the best (highlighted squares are those that should be filled with the subject):

This is your composition:


Personally, I would have gone for a more dramatic look with quite a lot of contrast, but your gentle version is just as good, if not better. The only thing that’s bothering me is the noise in upper part of the picture but that can easily be fixed with few clicks.


Despite my comments on format and composition, your photo is really good and your creative approach with the black and white is nice and refreshing to see.

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