"Ian Plant has done the best job I have seen in explaining the secrets of good composition." —Landscape Photography Magazine

Visual Flow

Mastering the Art of Composition

by Ian Plant (with George Stocking)


The Visual Flow Companion

Volume 1

by Ian Plant


"Art is not what you see, but what you make others see." —Edgar Degas

What makes a great photograph? Is there any one aspect of the process which separates the merely good from the truly magnificent?

Many candidates immediately spring to mind, such as subject matter, light, mood, and moment. But one aspect rises above the rest, and it is the thread which ties all of these other qualities together. Composition—the artistic arrangement and placement of visual elements within the picture frame—is the most difficult aspect of the art of photography to master, and also the most important.

The emotion evoked by a photograph’s subject matter and mood cannot be underestimated—but the primal visual response evoked by a skillful composition cannot be ignored or forgotten. A snapshot shows the world what your camera sees, but when you create a composition, you show the world what you see.

The 288 page-long Visual Flow includes:

  • Six chapters discussing shapes, depth, perspective, and many other composition essentials.

  • Analysis of composition masterpieces by the great painting masters including Rembrandt and Vermeer.  

  • In-depth discussion of dozens of styles of composition which will allow you to make compelling and powerful photographs.

  • Useful "Top Lessons" recaps for each of the six chapters.

  • Analysis of hundreds of amazing photographs taken by Ian Plant and George Stocking over their decades as landscape photographers.

Visual Flow: Mastering the Art of Composition is an artistic tour de force, spanning several centuries and different artistic media in its quest to reveal the composition secrets of the great masters. The book focuses  on nature photography composition—but the techniques discussed apply to other types of photography, and more broadly to all two-dimensional visual art. Artists of all types will find this book invaluable.


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Master Composition: Add Beyond the Grand Landscape: A Guide to Photographing Nature's Smaller Scenes  for a total of $44.95 (saving $4.95 compared to purchasing separately)

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Also included is an anniversary release, The Visual Flow Companion, Volume 1, which contains:

  • Explanation of the compositions of nineteen of Ian's favorite images from the last year.

  • Compositional analysis of images by fellow Dreamscapes bloggers George Stocking, Kurt Budlinger, and Richard Bernabe.

  • In-depth discussion of masterpieces by Rembrandt and Singer-Sargent.



  • Tim Parkin, On Landscape: If you’re going to look for a book about composition, finding one by authors with as much compositional flair as Ian Plant and George Stocking is going to be hard to beat. The standard of photography is very high indeed and most people would be happy to own a book based on the images alone. With the inclusion of the very well considered text it makes this a fantastic springboard for a journey into the further understanding and use of composition in landscape photography. Highly recommended.

  • Landscape Photography Magazine: Should you buy [Visual Flow]?  . . .  I certainly believe so. It will make you think. It will teach you about the most important aspect of photography, composition. You will be a better photographer if you take on-board all the advice given in this book. . . . Ian Plant has done the best job I have seen in explaining the secrets of good composition.

  • Michael Frye: Visual Flow: Mastering the Art of Composition is an ambitious eBook that delves deeply into what could be the most important aspect of photography: composition. While just reading any book won’t make you a master of composition, this volume presents a lot interesting ideas, and fresh ways of thinking about this subject that will help any photographer make better compositions. The overall content is exceptional.”

  • Kevin Tang, PhotoWhoa: Visual Flow is one of the most comprehensive e-books I've ever read on the topic of composition. In fact, I would say this book might completely revitalize your photography. That's how good it is. If you're stuck in a creative rut and you need something to really supercharge your creative juices, then read on. 

  • Dan Bailey Photo.com: Visual Flow is an incredible and comprehensive manual on composition from someone who I consider to be a modern day master of landscape and outdoor photography. . . . Each chapter presents an enormous amount of visual and written information. In breaking down each image, Ian discusses the specific elements that help bring each photo alive. He often uses visual notation and colored marks on the shot to help illustrate his points. I think that this is a nice touch, because not only does it show you more exactly what he’s talking about, it indicates that Ian made the extra effort to bring you in depth information. . . . Treat you and your photography to a special favor and check out Visual Flow: Mastering the Art of Composition . . . it’s without a doubt one of the biggest and best photography eBooks available today, if not the very best.

  • Dusty Doddridge: Visual Flow is an ebook by Ian Plant and George Stocking that needed to be written for a long time. If there is a better or more comprehensive source solely dedicated to composition for landscape photography, I haven’t seen it.

Customer Testimonials

  • Your book is the first truly helpful resource I have found relating solely to photography and the process of composition. I appreciate how you were able to cohesively articulate the way photographers 'see' their subjects – then break it down into smaller pieces of the whole. I found myself visualizing lines and circles on all kinds of art that I enjoy looking at to see why they work. I don’t think I’ll ever look through the viewfinder on my camera the same way. —Dirk M.

  • I just wanted to say that you may have written the best book on composition that exists. Gorgeous photos and very well written. —Ron C.

  • Wanted to congratulate you on your book, I liked it very much, esp. the references to the old masters and the systematic yet artistic approach of disecting a complex topic into palatable bites. I think this books runs circles around others. You may have set a new standard IMHO. Great job! Tom S.

  • I want to thank you for your recent e-book Visual Flow - it is a great and inspiring work for me. Although I have been preoccupied with image composition since the age of about fifteen (now I am in my late forties), I have never read such a comprehensive and convincing elaboration before. Peter R.

  • I've read everything I can get my hands on regarding composition in the last two years and this book blows them all away. Don W.

  • I bought your ebook Visual Flow and wanted to say that it was one of the best ebooks about photography I ever read. I especially liked that you point out to see certain things (like rule of thirds) not as rules but instead as tools. Also it was very interesting to read about the parallels to classic paintings. This book is really worth the money.Richard E.

About the Author: Ian Plant is a frequent contributor to and blogger for Outdoor Photographer Magazine, a Contributing Editor to Popular Photography Magazine, and a monthly columnist for Landscape Photography Magazine. Ian’s work also appears in many other books, calendars, ad campaigns, and magazines available worldwide. For more on Ian and his work, explore our site and join the mailing list. 

Related Items


Beyond the Grand Landscape: A Guide to Photographing Nature's Smaller Scenes: Learn how to see abstracts, flowers, and all that nature provides in a new light! $19.95

Photography Mini Guides: Everything you need—and nothing you don't. Twenty pages each, stuffed with amazing images and to-the-point tips on how to make stunning photographs. $12.95  

The Visual Flow Companion, Volume 1: Ian takes you through nineteen of his favorite recent images, analyzing their composition$7.95

Free Destinations Photobooks

Namibia—Two Photographers, One Vision: Ian Plant and Richard Bernabe's 61 page free photobook Namibia, featuring dozens of beautiful wildlife and landscape photographs.  

Yellowstone—Light and Life: Ian Plant's 80 page free photobook includes dozens of landscape and wildlife photographs from this harsh natural wonder.  

Costa Rica—Wonders of the Osa: Ian Plant's 40 page free photobook showcasing wildlife from one of the most diverse rain forests on Earth.  

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