When I talk to photographers around the world the universal frustration is feeling like they’re getting capable with their cameras but have no idea where to begin with the creative stuff, specifically composition. They know their photographs can be way stronger, they just don’t know where to begin.

It’s relatively easy to master the basics of the camera, but those aren’t what make our photographs more compelling or more captivating. It’s not really buttons and dials that make images that cause people to react.

What people respond to within the photograph are things like the decisions we make about what goes where, which moments we choose, and how the elements within a scene relate to each other. In other words: composition.

“There’s a whole language to photography and it’s that language that many photographers take way too long to learn, bound by rules and platitudes.”

Take a few moments to consider this video and the one thing you can do right now to begin changing your compositions for the better, stronger, and way less accidental.

“Composition isn’t a talent, it’s not something only for the really creative. It’s about principles you can learn and possibilities you can play with.”

In this video I also introduce my course The Compelling Frame—the online course I created to help photographers like you understand and use the visual language of composition to make photographs that are more intentional, more creative, and more powerful.

If you’re looking for a change, if you know your photographs are on their way to being technically good but you want more, you want not just to photograph what your world looks like but what it feels like, then check out The Compelling Frame.

This year The Compelling Frame is only open for enrollment from today, September 15, until the end of September 19, 2019. Not only that, but this year I’m strictly limiting the number of students and will close enrollment at 300 new students so we don’t overwhelm my mentoring community to which you will be invited.

That’s 5 days and the only opportunity to enroll this year, so if you’re interested, now is the time. You can check out The Compelling Frame, and enroll until the end of this Thursday at TheCompellingFrame.com

The Compelling Frame is a really robust course, something you can sink your teeth into for a while. It is not for someone who just wants to learn a few tips and a couple rules and then move on. It’s big and deep and if you do the work your photographs will become so much stronger.  The course is big but not overwhelming. It’s self-paced so there’s no rush, and the content is always yours and all available for downloading in case you want to access it offline. And if you’re already doing another course, like my Making The Image series, this course dovetails perfectly. If you don’t feel like you have the time right now the lessons and materials, and all the bonuses for The Compelling Frame will be there for you when you’re ready. But you still have to enroll. The Compelling Frame won’t be open for enrollment for another year after this Thursday, or as soon as we get 300 enrollments.

Whether you enroll or not, if you’re at the point where you’re making images that are, for the most part, technically satisfying, there’s a good chance your next leaps forward will be gained in studying composition, not getting more gear. You can do this.

For the Love of the Photograph,
David duChemin


  1. Hi David,
    When I go through my photos, what I notice is that the ones that stand out are taken in France and Arizona. Both have great light. Is it just the light? Is it that I feel better when I’m there 😂. I’m living right now in Scotland and I’m just not hitting my sweet spot. My photos usually don’t include people…although I’ve done some awesome kittens.
    How does your course help someone with my issues?

    1. Hi Mardelle. Well, that’s a good question, and one I can only answer incompletely. I think there are some places that resonate with us more. But also some places that we just have a better sense of what to do with the light. Perhaps for you in Scotland it’s a question of becoming aware of different possibilities than are present in France or Arizona. I think my course will open your eyes to new compositional possibilities, to see things in new ways, and to push you to work those things through in a new context. In short, it might be just the guided challenge that you need.

  2. Okay, I just listened to the video at thecompellingframe.com and I have a question. I think the thing that is most worrying me is that you do mostly portraits (in fact, I think those are the only photos I’ve ever seen of yours) and they are truly very compelling! I don’t do portraits, I have absolutely no interest in doing portraits or landscapes. I like everyday objects or situations (without people in them) and I love to do abstract images (details of something, shadows, light splashing on a wall, etc.). In “The Compelling Frame”, will you mostly be showing portraits or landscapes as examples of compelling images? I was told for many years that to make a compelling photo it needs a human element. I therefore assumed I cannot make compelling photos because I don’t ever include people in them. For this reason, I never felt represented in the courses I’ve taken, be they online or in a classroom. What do you think?

    1. I’ve noticed, as well, that the photos that are chosen as “best” in competitions include people or animals or other living creatures. I’d be curious to know why this is. Perhaps because we can relate to other creatures easier because of expressions, etc? It would be good to hear your answer to Louise Dandenau’s questions. As far as taking the course goes, there’s always the “out” that David promises: “My promise to you: I back what I make for you and if this course isn’t what you hoped, just let me know within 30 days and I’ll happily refund your tuition.”
      Unfortunately, for us Canadians, the price is at least a third higher than listed. Bummer.

      1. Hi Wally – I think it’s an interesting observation and it comes down, probably, to connection. We just feel more empathy and connection to living things, especially people and kittens (apparently). There’s often more story there. Or it’s more easily accessible on an emotional level. But there is some wonderful photography that lies outside this scope, I’m just not sure judges know what to do with it, which is why there are specific competitions for abstracts and architectural work. And thank you for the reminder, my offer of a refund if the course isn’t for you is very sincere. I believe this course will really move the needle for a lot of people but we also all learn differently and I’d rather have your trust than your money (though both would also be OK.) You’re right about the Canadian dollar. Not that it will help but we held back any kind of price increase for sensitivity to this reality. A drop in the bucket perhaps, but heartfelt, one Canuck to another.

    2. Hi Louise! This is an excellent question and I’m going to send you an email with it just to be sure you get it. Yes, I do a lot of people photography, along with travel (usually with people) and then some wildlife and landscapes (ahem, often with people, geez, what’s wrong with me, I don’t even like people that much! 🙂 ) But I believe that composition has nothing to do with whether a person is in the frame or not. It’s all light, lines, and moment. Contrast. Balance / Tension. Story. Colour. And on and on. So yes, my example might CONTAIN people but they aren’t about people. No, you don’t need a human element for a photograph to be deeply human. You don’t need story either. They are merely one way to get there. One of the reasons I offer a sincere 30-day guarantee is to let you test it out. If you can see past the fact that my examples contain people and street scenes and sharks, and hear my lessons about the actual concepts, I think the course will serve you very well. But if it’s not for you, just let me know! I hope this helps!

  3. Yet another amazing video with fantastic tips. I love the idea of “The Compelling Frame” course, but I have to admit that I have taken several online courses in the past that made all sorts of promises about helping improve creativity, vision, etc. and they usually fell short. I love your books and I’m very curious about the course, but I’m not sure…

    Thank you for this wonderful video series. It helps a lot to think about how to see. I am a big fan of yours. 🙂

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