Part of the Whole Photo Ideas

In photography, one basic photography technique called “part of the whole” refers to the idea that a single photograph can represent or symbolize a larger scene, event, or story. Take a look at these part of the whole photo ideas that provide impact for the viewer because of the more intimate view when you focus on a section of the scene.

Ultimately, the “part of the whole” in photography is about using the frame, the subject, and the viewer’s perception to represent something greater than the sum of the parts.

part of the whole photo ideas

Many photographers overlook the impact of capturing just a piece of the subject or scene. Use the photos and tips below as inspiration to get out and capture your own pictures that emphasize a part of the whole!

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Camera Gear for Landscape Photography

  • Tripod: take a look at these compact and lightweight travel tripods!
  • Camera Bag: protect your camera from sand and water → We use Lowepro camera backpacks for outdoor photography.
  • Neutral density filter: to compensate for variance of light you’ll need to use a neutral density filter. → Check out the Kase magnetic filters we use!
  • Camera cleaning kit: remove dust or water that WILL get on your lens. NOTE: this is not for cleaning the sensor.  
  • Memory cards: purchase name brand memory cards since you’re trusting your images to the card! → We use Lexar and Sandisk!
  • External hard drive: copy photos to a portable external hard drive ‘just in case’. 
  • Headlamp: use when taking sunrise and sunset photos!

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Part of the Whole Photo Ideas

By focusing on specific elements, shapes, or details within a landscape, photographers can create images that represent the essence of a place. A close-up of a weathered tree bark, for example, can evoke the ruggedness and age of an ancient forest. A reflection of mountains in a still lake can capture the serenity and majesty of a mountain range. Even a simple pattern of light and shadow on the ground can suggest the warmth and drama of a sunset.

Take a look at these photography ideas using the part of the whole technique shared by our photography friends!

Richey Oliver part of a subject
Part of the whole photo by Richey Oliver

Part of a Subject

Richey Oliver used a part of the old building to draw attention to and frame the sunset. The interesting textures, shapes, and lines in the subject add interest to the scene. Including foreground, midground and background also adds depth to this photo.

Gerardo Trevino part of a subject
Part of the whole photo by Gerardo Trevino

Gerardo Trevino isolates a part of the whole by centering his composition around a portion of the building. Doing this, and photographing in black and white, places emphasis on the architecture, the geometry and patterns. 

The angle of the camera and the placement of the subject within the frame enhance a sense of height as the structure seems to surge into the moody sky.

 Brian Leonard part of a subject
Part of the whole photo by Brian Leonard

Brian Leonard uses part of the whole to create interest when photographing wildlife. By focusing on the head of the deer, the viewer connects more intimately with the subject compared to a photo that included the entire body.

Placing the eyes of the subject in good focus and capturing the light reflected light in the eyes are important aspects of a successful composition of a living subject. 

Gary Danis part of a subject
Part of the whole photo by Gary Danis

This image from Gary Danis illustrates how effective the part of the whole concept can be. He set up the composition around a specific characteristic of this old truck that provides impact to the viewer.

The shapes and lines of this subject draw our eye and the low perspective creates depth.

Denise Thomason part of a scene
Part of the whole photo by Denise Thomason

Part of a Scene

It can be interesting and impactful to focus a capture on part of a scene. Denise Thomason narrows her composition down to emphasize vibrant life thriving in a cold environment.

The contrast between the cool, white frost and background and the vibrant color of the hanging fruit is impactful. The part of the whole focus allows us to experience the specific textures of the tree and its wintery surroundings.

Roy Goldsberry part of a scene
Part of the whole photo by Roy Goldsberry

Roy Goldsberry brilliantly applies part of the whole to show us the unique and individual aspects of an iconic and majestic landscape. When taking Bryce Canyon photos, the first instinct is to photograph the vast scene! 

Focusing on a part of the whole showcases the geologic structure and color of a stunning location scarred by the weathering of time.

Kathleen Spatuzzi part of a scene
Part of the whole waterfall photo by Kathleen Spatuzzi

When photographing waterfalls, don’t forget that focusing on a part of the scene or subject is a good technique to use.

Kathleen Spatuzzi’s photo draws the viewer into the movement and power of flowing water. You can almost feel the mist on your face!

Jeff Hall part of the action
Part of the whole photo by Jeff Hall

Part of the Action

When photographing an action, movement or activity, using the part of the whole technique brings focus to the expressions, moods, or illustrations in the scene.

Jeff Hall’s photo invites us into an intimate connection with the emotion and concentration of a unique human activity. The low perspective also draws the viewer into the action.

 Lissa Evans part of the action
Part of the whole photo by Lissa Evans

The intensity and precision of artistic expression is wonderfully captured in this great shot by Lissa Evans. With the focus directly on the artist’s hand, the viewer is drawn right in to the activity.

There’s added interest due to the perspective of looking over a person’s shoulder to watch what they’re doing.

Ron Bendalin macro details
Part of the whole photo by Ron Bendalin

Macro Details

Part of the whole is the very essence of macro photography.  It allows us to fill the frame to see detailed aspects of the subject.

Ron Bendalin includes a part of two flowers combined into one image. He also showcases layers in the flowers with the one in front in focus and the one in back with a bokeh effect.

By capturing the “part of the whole” in landscape photography, photographers can create images that resonate with viewers on a deeper level. They can evoke emotions, spark memories, and inspire a sense of wonder and connection with the natural world. And in doing so, they can help to preserve and celebrate the beauty and diversity of our planet, one frame at a time.

AMAZON Landscape Photography Books:

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10 part of the whole photo tips

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