Introduction to the Composition Madhouse

It has been a goal of mine for some time to start teaching on composition, the heart of great photography. After many months of planning, I have begun. I have the next year planned for teaching intermediate and advanced composition and design. Without futher ado: Introduction to the Composition Madhouse:


Hello and welcome to the Composition Madhouse, where imitation is mastery. Brought to you Foster Light Studios. My name is John Higgins, and this first episode, we're going to get mad at gearheads and get down with design.

In this first episode, I want to talk to you about what the Composition Madhouse is. I think many people had the experience of when they first got into photography, they were trying to get better, they were trying to understand what this whole thing was about, so they started scouring the internet and they looked on blogs and on websites. But the problem is that many times when you're trying to figure something out, simply the questions and the conversations that are already going on aren't the main things that are going to make you a better photographer.

And when you start listening in on these conversations, the thing that I was amazed at was that so many of the conversations were about gear, just gear heaven. And so naturally, I thought that, "Man, to be a really good photographer, I've got to know about gear." But as any good photographer will tell you, gear accounts for a very, very small percentage of what it means to be a photographer. It's incredible to me when you look at all of the major photography sites and the types of content that they're putting out.

Just a few months ago, I saw a very, very large photography vendor put out a review, a video review, on a lens that had been out for 5, 6, 7 years. It was unbelievable. I remember after the Blackhawks won the World Cup, I was sitting waiting for the parade to come by and there were two younger guys sitting next to me and they saw that I had a nice camera and a long lens, and naturally one of their first questions is, "What do you shoot, Nikon or Canon?" I've been asked this question many times and I say the same thing every time: it doesn't matter. And naturally, when I say that, everyone is shocked and they say, "I've never heard someone say that before."

No one, no matter how good a photographer, can look at any photograph and tell you what camera or what lens it's on. So, there's tons of resources on things that won't make you a great photographer, but very few resources on the things that actually will. What really matters in being a good photographer is composition. And when I say composition, I mean composition including light and posing as well because that's part of the visual organization of the frame. What you really need to master and spend your life learning if you want to be a great photographer is composition.

The problem is that when I was searching for a place for people to really learn from and master composition, I didn't find anything. What you do find with composition is you find a lot of introductory material. Time and time again, you see tutorials and you see lessons on leading line, rule of thirds, but once you've mastered that, you get this desire, "I want to know more. I want to master composition." The Composition Madhouse is about mastering composition. How many times can you review one lens? Honestly. The Composition Madhouse is about intermediate and advanced composition. It's about mastering composition.

What we're going to be doing here at the Composition Madhouse is we're going to be looking at the greatest photographers, breaking down their photographs into all their compositional principles, intermediate to advanced, imitate them so that we might become masters.

So, starting next week, episode two of the Composition Madhouse, we're going to talk about how to master anything.

Thanks for stopping in today. Please remember to give me a thumbs up, share and subscribe. We're going to be having one video every week. I'd love to see you come back.