You may be right at the start or many years into your photography journey. Either way, creating a strong composition will always be key to your workflow.
A vast number of products on the market promise to improve your vision, awareness, and precision for composing. They come in various formats: hardcover books, ebooks, video, and hybrid courses.
Today, I’m reviewing one of them, ‘Incredibly Important Composition Skills’ by Photography Concentrate. It is an ebook, with plenty of interactive parts and extra video content. Let’s see what it can offer for you.
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About the Authors
The creators of this course are Lauren Lim, Rob Lim, and Stephanie Simpson. They are the Photography Concentrate team.
Besides producing courses and ebooks, they have a popular YouTube channel.
What You Can Expect
‘Incredibly Important Composition Skills’ is a hybrid product. Its most substantial part is the ebook itself, at 226 pages (roughly 40000 words). It comes in PDF format, so it is not dynamically scalable. It is best to view it on a larger screen, such as a tablet or computer.
As part of the product, you get seven videos. In these, Lauren analyses seven of her photos, examining their compositional elements in detail. The videos are great for showing you real-world examples of what you’ve learned. They are 50 minutes long in total.
A bonus two-page ‘Field Guide’ PDF file is also included. You can print it and bring it along for your photoshoots to help you on the spot. It’s well-designed and packed with information. Great for practising.
The ebook consists of six sections:
- The Frame
- Compositional Elements
- Compositional Techniques
- Compositional Decisions
- Common Composition Techniques and How to Solve Them
Here’s how the table of contents looks like in detail.
The structure of the ebook is easy to follow. It aligns with what I think is the right way to teach.
Each of the six chapters follows a clear path. There are ‘Pop Quizzes’ that reflect on the content of the previous sections. Turn the page, and you’ll find the right solutions. This is not as evident as it seems – I’ve seen products where the quizzes are not answered.
Towards the end of the chapters, there are some exercises. These are real-world tasks that you can (and should) do to follow along and improve your skills.
Photography Concentrate sells ‘Incredibly Important Composition Skills’ for $97. They offer a full refund for 60 days if you don’t like the product.
An Area to Improve
While my overall feeling of this course is positive, let me point out something that I would change.
Style of Writing
While the style of writing is warm and welcoming, I’ve sometimes felt that it’s too much.
I prefer to receive as much information from a tutorial ebook as possible. I expect less intermediary content, but your taste might be different.
Take a look at the first few rows of this page to see what I mean.
What I Especially Liked
Let me list a few things that make ‘Incredibly Important Composition Skills’ stand out.
Quality of Graphics and Infographics
‘Incredibly Important Composition Skills’ is a well-designed product. The design follows consistent, clear visual principles. Thanks to the bright and vivid colours, the ebook feels welcoming.
The infographics are clear and simple – everyone can understand them instinctively.
Often a smart graphic can substitute several paragraphs of complex text. The authors created the content with this in mind.
Original and High-Quality Images
In some products I’ve reviewed, the authors didn’t use the best quality photos.
‘Incredibly Important Composition Skills’ is an outstanding ebook in this aspect. Most of the images shown are the authors’ own. They look beautiful, illustrate their points well, and enhance the visual quality.
They inspire you to go out and shoot while applying all the compositional principles.
I love the ‘Exercises’ sections. They make you grab your camera and actually practise important things.
Here’s an example, an exercise teaching you how to use light of different qualities in your compositions. “This stuff is important!” – I agree.
Emphasis on Layers and Depth
Most composition tutorials I’ve watched or read miss out on the importance of ‘layers’. This is something I had to figure out myself in the early days of my photography.
I’m glad the authors included and put emphasis on layering and three-dimensional depth. These are powerful tools that add a ton of interest to photographs.
Emphasis on Light
I always love when instructors highlight the significance of light in their tutorials.
Many make the mistake of speaking about light as an abstract thing that you have to deal with. It’s not that. It’s the core of everything.
Understanding light is among the most important skills in photography. Interlinking this skill with composition skills is crucial.
I’m pleased to see that ‘Incredibly Important Composition Skills’ does a great job here.
Interactive PDF File
The PDF format has long supported internal linking and clickability. But I haven’t seen its full potential utilised until now.
Photography Concentrate has created clickable page-turner buttons and table of contents. The PDF also has links that point to the extra videos.
All this makes navigation in the ebook easy and intuitive.
Alternatives to Incredibly Important Composition Skills
The market for photography tutorial products is dense. Besides the technical basics of photography, composition has the highest competition. So, let’s see some of the alternatives.
If you’d prefer an ebook at a lower price, there is ‘Advanced Composition’ by Photzy. I wasn’t astounded by it, but for roughly a quarter of the price, it is a viable alternative. Read my review and check it out here.
If you prefer hardcover books, I recommend David Präkel’s Composition. I have learnt a lot from this book. Präkel’s way of explaining is much more theoretical, but he also covers more. The book shifts quite a bit to the fine-art territories of photography. (It is also available in ebook format, but I recommend the hardcover version.)
‘Incredibly Important Composition Skills’ is exactly what it says on the tin.
I don’t feel that it’s missing anything in particular. In fact, it includes things most similar products don’t.
It’s a well-put-together, cohesive and complete guide for beginners and intermediates alike.
It delivers what it promises, and does so in an entertaining form. The contents are pleasing to the eye, and the production follows a high standard.