Learn to tune in to your innate compositional sense

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In this composition course, you will not be taught composition. Instead, we will explore the idea that all people have an innate, built-in compositional sense. This is the sense that you already use when you arrange furniture in your house, assemble a clothing ensemble, organize food on a plate. What you may not be doing is fully listening to it when you’re behind the camera. Improving your composition skill then, means learning to better tune in to that compositional sense that you already have.

In this week-long course, we will engage in a number of exercises – not all of them photographic – aimed at tuning your attention to your compositional sense. On our field trips throughout the area, you’ll have plenty of time to practice these skills, as you complete specific assignments as well as follow your own compositional ideas.

You cannot comprehend language without a vocabulary. Similarly, you can’t effectively hear your compositional sense without effective words for describing it. For that reason, we will have regular group critique sessions. In addition to exploring the similarities and differences of different people’s compositional sense, these sessions will give us a chance to develop and practice our compositional vocabulary. As you’ll see, that vocabulary will be one of your most useful compositional tools when shooting.

In the end, though this course is not taught like some composition courses, you should find a noticeable improvement in your compositional skills.

All Images:  ©Ben Long

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Instructor: Ben Long

Ben Long is a San Francisco-based photographer, writer, and teacher. He is the author of over two dozen books on digital photography and digital video. For years he covered photography and graphics software for such magazines as Macworld, MacUser, MacWeek and CreativePro.com. His photography clients have included 20th Century Fox, Blue Note Records, Global Business Network, the San Francisco Jazz Festival, the Pickle Family Circus, and Grammy-nominated jazz musicians Don Byron and Dafnis Prieto. He has taught and lectured on photography around the world, including workshops at the Santa Reparata International School of the Arts in Florence and a class for imaging engineers at Apple, Inc. He occasionally dabbles in computer programming and has written image editing utilities that are used by National Geographic, the British Museum, and the White House.