Jim Harmer’s Block Method Composition Tutorial Review

When it comes to the technical aspects of photography, there are a lot. Proper exposure, depth of field, composition. A quick Google search on just composition can make anyone's head spin. That same search lists articles listing anywhere from 10 to 20 different rules and techniques.

A recent addition to the Improve Photography Plus library of instructional videos is Jim Harmer's “Block Method Composition” tutorial. Once it came out, this video went straight to the top of my must watch videos.


I really have never considered myself a master of composition. In most cases, I run with the rule of thirds. It is fast. It is easy. I have never looked at composition the way Jim talks about in the video.


In the video, Jim lays it out very simply put:

-Remove all the detail from the scene

-View elements as blocks rather than what they are

-Arrange the blocks so they work together to form a single coherent shape

When I first listened to that, I was somewhat confused, yet Jim breaks it down in the video.

Screenshot from “Block Method Composition”


The video is available to stream and download. The video itself is just over 90 minutes long, and the downloads are split into four segments of roughly 20 minutes a piece. Along with classroom instruction, Jim filmed on location in Arizona for this video. Utilizing images that he has captured over time, Jim breaks down the Block Method into something that is very easily understood. Along the way, Jim drops tips and tricks that help him produce the work he does. In what I would consider a bonus section, Jim talks about color theory.

Screenshot from “Block Method Composition”


One of the things I really wanted to do is go out in the field and put this training to use. Unfortunately, I have not been able to do that, but I have been able to look at some of my images and utilize one of Jim's tips.

Even though I have not been able to go out and shoot landscapes, I have been looking at my immediate area with a different eye. Although it can be tough finding shapes within the confines of my immediate area, I have taken the time to look at the shapes that come together.

I have also gone back through my library to see where I may have touched upon the block method, or unknowingly had put together shapes or blocks that came together. For me, breaking down a storm image into shapes, I see how they all come together.

Lines forming triangles that come together to form this image.


I really liked the video.  The way Jim put it together with the out in the field examples, along with the diagrams wrapped everything up.


To be able to watch “Block Method Composition,” you need to be a member of ImprovephotographyPlus.com. Membership is $19.95 a month and comes with a 14 day free trial. Being a member of IPPlus has some great benefits. Right now, there are 19 video tutorials, 18 sets of Lightroom presets, and members get first crack at signing up for on locations workshops and other gatherings.

1 thought on “Jim Harmer’s Block Method Composition Tutorial Review”

  1. Hey Jim, got your note on “different locations that we like to photograph”. I live on the southern Oregon Coast and the Beaches are some of the most beautiful beaches you’ll want to photograph; Bandon Beach and just north, Sunset Beach/ Shore Acres.

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