Mario Madau Photography

Mario Madau's Photography/Video Blog

Anatomy of Hotel and Resort Photography; Episode 5

Episode 5;      Composition

Composition is by definition;

"The combination of distinct parts or elements to form a whole. Arrangement of artistic parts so as to form a unified whole. There are lots of books written on Composition but here are a few rules of thumb that you can follow to improve the way you compose shots or evaluate them."

Point of interest

Rule of thirds concept.  This concept can be considered “old school,” but it is still in use by all visual artists.  The rule of thirds was first theorized by John Thomas Smith in 1797.  In his book “Remarks on Rural Scenery,” Smith writes about the balance of  dark and light in a painting …”Two distinct, equal lights, should never appear in the same picture : One should be principal, and the rest sub-ordinate.” Basically, the rule thirds means that you break up the image in thirds and make sure that the main point of interest is not in the center of the shot.  You compose the image to force the viewer to look at a certain point of interest first,  then to see the other parts of the image. The image below is a good example of the Rule of Thirds.  The Restaurant is not in the centre of the shot.


The Use of Lines

When shooting architecture, the use of lines is very important.  Lines, if used properly will force the viewer to look at the image the way you want them too.  You use lines to guide the viewer to where you think the “heart” of the image is. 

What is important to show?

When shooting interiors for example, you have to find the “heart” of the image.  What is it about the room that sings?   You can always just photograph furniture against a fireplace or window, but does this tell the story of the room?   I don’t think so.  A bunch of furniture, even if it’s nice furniture, can be done anywhere and may not represent the room.  I’m always searching for the “heart “of a room and what story does it have to tell.


Lensing is always very important.  Most of the time when shooting large exteriors and interiors, you will need to use a wide angle lens – 14mm to 28mm.  Most lens though will curve walls and straight lines due to their optics. I always use what’s called

“rectilinear” lens which help to eliminate the curved walls and lines. Extreme wide lens like fisheyes should not be used since they really throw the image out of wack.

Patterns and Shapes

Does the image have unique patterns and shapes that will help in composing the shot?


With most wide-angle lens, if you shoot from a too high or to low angle, you will inevitably distort the image.  You always have to find the sweet spot.

Foreground Elements

The use of foreground elements will always help your compositions.

One final thing I think is really important in composition is the “COOL” factor.  Does the way you’ve composed the shot feel“Cool”,  feel right?  Composition is a personal journey and the feeling that you got it right takes time.  So feel free to train yourself to get better at composing shots.  If you’re not a photographer, at least now you have a few tools to evaluate the images you see.  You either like them or not.  If you can quantify this feeling, then you are on your way.

Mario Madau