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Photographic Composition

A Visual Guide

By Richard D. Zakia, David Page

  1. ISBN: 9780240815077
  2. Publication Date: October 2010
  3. Format: Paperback
  4. Pages: 304
  5. Price:
    • $29.95 (USD)
    • £18.99 (GBP)
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A note from the author, Richard Zakia:

P. H. Emerson reminds us that Every artist is at first an amateur. One of the great American photographers of the 20th Century, Edward Weston, as a young photographer, only got honorable mention in a photographic contest sponsored by an amateur camera magazine. Ansel Adams, Paul Strand and others also began as amateurs. Wynn Bullock began his outstanding photographic career later in life when he was in his 40s

Today, in our digital age, everyone is a photographer. Recognizing this and the fact that there are some basic proven guidelines for creating winning photographs, we put together this highly visual book especially for beginning photographers who want to improve their photography. In doing so we discovered that some professional photographers also found it helpful. One can think of our book as a visual grammar that will help you better compose what you desire to express and to do so with clarity.


However amazing the subject or technically excellent the photography, the single biggest factor in deciding whether a photograph is good or bad is how well it is composed.

Photographic Composition Visualized offers a unique take on this fundamental issue by offering instruction in a visual format - the book is laid out in a unique spread format of a beautiful image on one page, with an in-depth break down of why the rule of composition works in the image, but also how a photographer can apply it to their own photography.

Inspirational, instructive, and, most importantly, visually stunning and beautiful, photography master Richard Zakia teaches the lessons he has learned from over 40 years as a photographer. This is the book every photographer needs to own in order to create the outstanding images they always wanted to - but didn't know how.

Author Bio

Richard Zakia is a 1956 graduate of the Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT). Some of his classmates at the time were Carl Chiarenza, Peter Bunnell, Bruce Davidson, Ken Josephson, Pete Turner and Jerry Uelsmann. Minor White was a member of the faculty and Beaumont Newhall was Adjunct. It was a great and enriching mix. After graduation he was employed as a photographic engineer in the Color Technology Division of Eastman Kodak. During the Sputnik era he decided teaching was his vocation and accepted a position with RIT where he served for 34 years. For a time he was Director of Instructional Research and Development and Chair of the Fine Art Photography Department and graduate program in Imaging Arts. He is a recipient of the Eisenhart Outstanding Teaching Award. Zakia has authored and co-authored thirteen books on photography and perception. He is also the co-editor with Dr. Leslie Stroebel of the third edition (1993) of The Focal Encyclopedia of Photography and a contributor to the fourth edition (2007). His most recent book is Teaching Photography with Dr. Glen Rand.
David A. Page is a retired Duke University fine arts photographer. He was a student of Dr. Zakia at Rochester Institute of Technology and graduated in 1966. He and professor Zakia have been close friends and have collaborated on photographic projects ever since. David began his career as a photographic quality control engineer for Polaroid Corporation. Later he joined Data Corporation as a Photo-scientist specializing in the new field of Color Reconnaissance for the military during the Vietnam War era. For a time he was employed by NASA and was in charge of the critical processing of film for the Apollo 11 moon landing. His writing and images have been published in several books including the Focal Press "Encyclopedia of Photography?, and in a number of magazines, such as "Sports Illustrated?. He taught photography in the Duke Art Department, Alamance Community College and at the Duke Institute of the Arts. He is presently researching the work of an early North Carolinian photographer and is preparing a book of his photographs. David's images are in private and public collections and have been exhibited nationally and internationally.


"Those of you who follow this blog know that Dr. Richard Zakia, former RIT professor, is one of my all time favorite photo gurus. We send each other pictures. We talk about looking into pictures - and not just looking at them. Big difference.. Dr. Richard Zakia, a.k.a. Dick, is the co-author, along with David Page, of Photographic Composition: A Visual Guide. These two dudes are also two of my favorite people."---Rick Sammon's blog

"Covers all the tips needed to help photographers construct their own unique, outstanding images and is an outstanding 'must' for any collection."--CA Bookwatch





1. Balance

2. Geometrics

3. Figure-Ground

4. Depth

5. Framing the Scene

6. Clarity

7. Movement

8. Camera Position (Vantage Point)

9. Gestalt Composition

10. Light and Shadows

11. Color


1. Print Size

2. Print Cropping

3. Print Captions

4. Print Framing

5. Exhibiting

6. Photoshop


1. Three Ways to Capture

2. Morphics

3. Archetypes

4. Secondary Images ("Subliminals")