The composition is the arrangement of all elements which make up an image we want to represent. There are no strict rules but rather principles related to the visual perception like: unity, contrast, balance.

In the following example, there are some sketches of what to do and not do to compose a portrait on a page:

1. In a full face portrait you should not place the head right at the geometric center of the page, but a little bit higher, leaving the equal space at both sides. Make sure that the top of the head does not get too close to the edge of the page.

2. In a three-quarter portrait it’s better to leave more room between the front of the face and the edge of the page, rather than at the back

3. A profile portrait looks better if you leave lots of space in front of the face. Avoid cutting the head’s back shape. Make it fit to the page.

Other rules:

– a bowed head can express a depressed mood

– a full-face portrait can radiate strength and self-confidence

– an image seen from below can make the face look fierce and the attitude authoritarian. It is not recommended for a portrait

– an unusual and evocative effect can be achieved by having the face take up the whole page

Image: “Portraits.Faces.and.Figures” by Giovanni Civardi

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