I found this pic in internet and I really liked it. As having interest in photography, I was wondering what kind of composition rules was used in this pic, for example whether it is a contrast, juxtapose, symmetry, rule of third or what, why I find it interesting.

I understand that photography is not all about rules but still I want some thoughts on this pic.

Below is the low pixel version:

enter image description here

  • 9
    First you have to train a cat. The rest is just photography. Apr 18, 2018 at 10:12
  • 1
    @OlinLathrop train a cat - You might as well count to infinity ;) Apr 18, 2018 at 10:18
  • 2
    @AlexandervonWernherr - our cat will give you a high five for a treat. Don't trick her more than a few times though...the high-fives start coming with claws out.
    – OnBreak.
    Apr 18, 2018 at 17:21

4 Answers 4


The composition in this image is all about leading lines and how they guide the viewer's eyes around the frame.

enter image description here

The lines outlined in yellow all lead to the cat. The posture and head position of the cat leads us to look along the red line to see what the cat is looking at. That line leads us to the intersection of the green lines which is the intersection of (roughly) a vertical 1/3 line and a horizontal 1/2 line.

These leading lines are reinforced by the way our human brains are wired to 1) visually notice animals at a higher priority than inanimate objects and 2) to look and see where that animal is looking. The cat's posture indicates a possible source of danger or food at which it is looking, and we're evolutionarily conditioned to see if that might also be a source of danger or food for us.

Additionally, you have sets of of "boxes within boxes within boxes" or "frames within frames." The one near the top has the inner box centered in the outer box. The one on the bottom has the inner box shifted to the left which leaves space to the right for the cat. There's also the skewed box formed on the wall to the right by the artwork which really gives that wall, and the image, a dimensionality it would not otherwise have. You also have the rectangles at the lower right (pink) balancing against the rectangles at the upper left (light blue).

enter image description here

Combining simple geometric shapes next to or inside another is an oft used compositional technique. Some have suggested that the "secret" to the golden ratio (if there really is such a "secret") is that it allows a rectangle to be endlessly redacted into proportional squares. Circles inside squares or triangles, five pointed stars within circles, etc. are all common compositional combinations of regular geometric shapes.

enter image description here

  • With judicious cropping, there is a myriad of pictures-within-the-picture. As it is now, it is all of them—which is to say none of them.
    – Stan
    Apr 24, 2018 at 16:40
  • @Stan The question asks what kind of compositional elements are used. It doesn't really ask how well they are all integrated together or how some of them might be used more effectively.
    – Michael C
    Apr 24, 2018 at 20:42
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    Thanks. I see your point. Good learning opportunity.
    – Stan
    Apr 24, 2018 at 21:58

Let's not over-interpret this image. In my opinion, there are no compositional elements present. It looks like someone passing saw the cat and just fired off a shot without even thinking about composition.

Edit: OK - misunderstood the question. Of course there are lots of compositional elements present. They just haven't been used effectively.

  • I think this other answer provides a good rebuttal to this view.
    – mattdm
    Apr 24, 2018 at 20:37
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    A great discussion, and I must now agree with Michael Clark. Compositional elements are there, but in my opinion have not been used to create a pleasing composition. However, having said that, we all agree that photography is a very subjective area, and what is good for some is not necessarily good for all. Apr 26, 2018 at 12:50
  • I'll retract my downvote, but the system won't let me do that unless you edit the answer :)
    – mattdm
    Apr 26, 2018 at 13:05

imho, the composition "rules" are not really "rules" but more rough guidelines, and it's not always necessary to adhere to these guidelines to get a good shot. In this case it's hard to tell if the author was following the "rules", with a more or less conscious effort, but from an "a posteriori" point of view, I'd say that we could see a use of negative space (with the shadowed walls) and a bit of the rule of the thirds, with the wall and stairs top contours.


I think you are mistaking compositional elements and the guidelines for composition as something you think about extensively before one takes picture. IMO, these 'guidelines' are merely very rough explanations of how people see a photo and why they enjoy it. Whereas a really good image is a well coordinated structure with anything that adds to the photo, emphasized and anything that detracts de-emphasized (either by framing or editing), the 'guidelines' for composition are an unstructured set.

IMO, there are three clear Rules for composition:

  1. Put important things in important places in the frame
  2. Through framing, exposure or editing, emphasize elements that add
  3. Through framing, exposure or editing, minimize the impact of elements that detract

In the image above, the cat looks up, the focus on on the cat, the direction of gaze is up and the very slight perspective distortion reinforces the effect. The rest of the 'elements' are neutral and decorative but don't distract.

going to work


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