Photographs – the factual and the artistic
Composing a factual photograph is entirely different from composing an artistic photograph. Both the techniques used and the mindset of the photographer must be different. A factual photograph is concerned with showing the subject in a realistic manner. As such, seeing the details of this subject is very important…Similarly, photographs taken to record scenes, events or objects must be detailed enough so that the subject is clearly visible.
Composition in factual photographs is also concerned with showing either the entire subject, or showing the part of the subject that is of interest. The goal is not to dramatize how this subject is located in the frame, or to emphasize one aspect or another, or again to use a rule of composition aimed at furthering the creativity of the photographer. The goal is not to take a creative photograph. Instead, the goal is to take an accurate photograph, a photograph that can be used as evidence by the intended audience.
On the other hand, artistic photographs are rarely concerned with showing the entire subject. Instead, they often rely on the fact that less is more, and, following this credo, the artist seeks to eliminate all elements that do not contribute to making the image stronger. In keeping with this rule certain important elements may be cropped so that only parts of these elements show in the image. Or, elements that may be deemed absolutely necessary in a factual photograph may be removed entirely, the reasoning being that the absence of these elements makes the image either stronger or more intriguing.
~Alain Briot from his article Introduction to Composition