Composition in Storytelling

Every single shot in Cinema uses composition, but thouse images that haunt us, astound us, they evoke such emotions not just because they’re beautiful, but because they carry meaning.’


Hi, today we’re going to talk about composition, to better understand why it is so important in the process of storytelling. I found a great video essay on Youtube by Lewis Bond, who explain very well some foundamental concepts about composition and its use.

Whether you are a wedding videographer or a filmmmaker you should know how to master the craft of composition.

As Lewis says, to compose an image is to create an everlasting metaphor, infact cinema in its purest form is visual storytelling, based on the process of evoking feelings and sensations by images in movement.

Deciding the placement of subjects through the viewfinder of a camera isn’t merely a technical decision, it’s an expressive one.

If the kuleshov effect since Sergei Eisenstein helps us discover that editing was the tool to create meaning across multiple pieces of film then composition was how we could tell our stories with one single shot.

At the beginning of cinema composition draw inspiration from theatre, so directors staged a comedy or a drama based on the way they were used to see in theatre, with a basic exposition of the actors, in a two-dimension plane where everything was exposed in a elementary way.

But composition exists as a tool to accentuate the focal elements of an image, guiding the specatator’s attention in the right spot. We can say infact that attracting viewer attention is the core intent of composition.

In this video Lewis speaks about Artificial Control -> Control of aesthetic (where we should be looking) and Primal Control -> Where power dynamics lie (What subject holds more weight in the narrative at that moment in time).

For example we can use several techniques to manage the power of composition like Lewis covers in his video:

Size and scale, Frame centralityNegative space and Movement.

Hitchcock once said: “The size of an object in the frame should equal it’s importance in the story”.

Watch the video and let me know if you find it interesting: