Photo Hacks to Make Your Canvas Print a Showstopper

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Taking perfectly decent photos isn’t rocket science. And once you’ve taken them, it’s also not hard to turn them into perfectly decent photo canvas prints. But what if you’re striving for something more, something exceptional? What if you want your canvas print to be a real showstopper?

Well, there are a few hacks you can use that should get you instant results. And the photo printing experts at are here to talk you through these canvas printing tips.

Read on.

Stick with the basics of composition

canvas printing tips - printed canvas sitting on a desk.
Photo by Roger Erdvig – Unsplash

It sounds counterintuitive to play it safe when you want your photo to stir things up. But some rules really are best left unbroken. Using the Rule of Thirds, Fibonacci Spiral or Phi Grid might sound basic if you’re a battle-hardened professional. And yet these lie behind pretty much every successful photo ever taken.

And there’s another factor in play here.

It’s worth noting that after you print a photo on canvas, the canvas is stretched over a wooden frame and attached at the back. This means that some of the image detail – the very margins of the original photo – appear on the sides of the frame.

For those “playing it safe,” this shouldn’t have much impact, as the position of the subject, the focal points, and lines of perspective will all stay roughly the same.

But for those who take risks with the classic conventions of photography, the opposite can be true.

If your subject, or the center of the “action,” are too close to the edge of your image, there’s a risk that these will be obscured on the finished product.

Aim for scale and movement

Drone photography often makes for superb photo canvas prints. And close-up photos of fabric and plant textures can also look fantastic when printed on canvas. In fact, though it might seem paradoxical, there are certain similarities between these two kinds of shots.

Canvas printing tips – 3 photos with beach scenes framed on a wall
Photos by Adam Gonzales, Ryan Wilson and Bharath g s – Unsplash

Both allow you to take certain liberties with the rules of composition, as the focus here is on a sense of scale.

Repetitive patterns and an emphasis on texture also help to make aerial photos and close-up shots visually effective.

But there are many other ways to give your prints more impact.

Use the leading lines cleverly

Photo Hacks to Make Your Canvas Print a Showstopper
Photo by Mak – Unsplash

The most common way to create dynamism in photos is to use the leading lines. These are lines that draw the viewer’s attention to the subject of the photo. Usually produced by lighting conditions (light/shadow relationships) or geometrical patterns in the photo, leading lines can also be formed by the contours of buildings, handrails of a staircase, or any physical object close to the main subject.

When you’re framing your shot, just make sure these lines lead to your subject.

Go to the extremes

Many readers will be familiar with the terms “negative space” and “positive space.” The former denotes the areas surrounding the main subject of your photo, while the latter denotes the main subject/object. Of course, “negative space” shouldn’t be taken as implying any sense of inferiority!

Canvas printing tips – 5 black and white minimalist images printed on canvas and hanging on a wall
Photos by Adam Birket, Michel Paz, Trevor Mckinnon – Unsplash; Serhii and Besjunior – Adobe Stock

Negative space serves to highlight positive space. In fact, you could say that one relies on the other to make an impact. But it’s possible to compose an image so that negative space becomes the main subject of the photo. This can work to amazing artistic effect, challenging traditional ideas about composition.

Meanwhile, keeping your focus on positive space but taking it to audacious extremes is another example of how you can break the rules and still get great results.

So what do we mean when we talk about extreme positive space?

Canvas printing tips – photos of busy urban architecture framed and hanging on a all.
Photos by Red Ana & Pavel – Unsplash

A photo with extreme positive space usually features little or no negative space. The whole photo, from top to bottom, is buzzing with noise, movement, lines, and patterns, produced by multiple competing subjects. Done right, this can lead to an appealing sense of artistic chaos.

Photos of crowds, building blocks, lush woodlands, or mountain ranges lined up one behind the other – these are examples of subjects that can use extreme positive space to great effect.

And any successful photo using positive space in this way is sure to make for a successful canvas print too.

Photo Hacks to Make Your Canvas Print a Showstopper
Photos by Rodion Kutsaev and Janita Sumeiko – Unsplash

You can try going extreme in negative space too. In fact, extreme negative space often gives photos a sophisticated fine-art appeal. So push minimalism as far as you dare, and there’s every chance your photo will make for a wonderfully striking print on canvas.

Blur up the background

Is background clutter distracting from the subjects in the foreground of your photo? Shallow depth of field is a common way to emphasize the subjects in focus, effectively reducing the “noise” in the background. This simple trick works exceptionally well with still-life photos, as it accentuates nuanced details. It also produces the much-valued bokeh effect, as well as some specular reflections and blurred light sources.

Photo Hacks to Make Your Canvas Print a Showstopper
Photo by Yeshi Kangrang – Unsplash

One might argue the effect is somewhat overused these days, but there’s no denying it can look amazing. Frankly, we’d recommend jumping on the bandwagon at this point.

You can get the effect by using your camera’s macro settings or shooting in aperture priority mode. Choose the former, and you just need to switch to macro mode, turn off flash and zoom in before you shoot.

For the latter, you’ll need to switch to aperture priority mode and aim for the lowest f-value available – then just zoom in again and take the photo.

The two methods should give you near-identical results.

Use layers

Note that this has nothing to do with manipulations in Adobe Photoshop. Layering is a technique that’s commonly used to give your photo a depth effect. In practice, it means producing a photo composed of multiple layered elements at a range of distances from the lens. Using varying tones and textures will enhance the effect, making the photo appear more immersive.

Photo Hacks to Make Your Canvas Print a Showstopper
Photos by Jordan Steranka and Nathan Anderson – Unsplash

Creative use of these layers can produce a striking three-dimensional effect – which should work just as well once you print the image on canvas.

To get the best results, try to keep a clear distinction between the foreground, middle ground, and background of your image.

The many aspects of motion

Movement is one of the cornerstones of photography. Whether you capture a single instant of action using lightning-fast shutter speed or create motion blur with an epic long-exposure shot, movement creates visual tension. It makes your subject stand out from the background action.

This hack is not so much about creating a sense of motion as about where to position your moving subject in your photo. Get that part right, and your image can produce a spectacular impact.

Photo Hacks to Make Your Canvas Print a Showstopper
Photos by Rémi Jacquaint – Unsplash, Fannyes, and 75tiks – Adobe Stock

The trick involves leaving a space between the object in motion and the opposite side of the photo. The subject should occupy roughly one-third to two-thirds of the photo, with the remainder taken up by negative space.

This will suggest a direction in which the subject is heading and make your photo more dynamic.

Many great sporting photographs owe a lot of their power to this technique.

Trust your instinct

While the hacks listed above will help you shoot professional, well-balanced photos, the key to getting exceptional results is to go with your gut feeling. If you remember that not everyone agrees with even the most conventional ideas of beauty, you’ll feel free to do things your way.

Photo Hacks to Make Your Canvas Print a Showstopper
Photo by Roger Erdvig – Unsplash

There’s no universal formula for taking an excellent photo. No image, however highly acclaimed, is going to appeal to everyone. So when in doubt, trust your instinct, and there’s every chance it will lead you to your perfect photo.

Do you already have a photo with showstopper potential? Think it would look amazing hung on your wall? We can help! In collaboration with, we’ve prepared a special purchase offer exclusively for the readers of Digital Photography School. Head to and use the code DIGITALCANVAS15 to get 15% OFF all canvas prints! This is one you don’t want to miss!

CanvasDiscount is a paid dPS partner.

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