How can I have more control over where pictures are placed?

If's automatic layout is limiting the design you have in mind, try working in Free-form mode.

Free Form Mode

To turn the automated system off, click the  button to the left of the project (above an individual page in book/calendar project)

Then click the Free-form option. 

On some projects, activating free form mode makes the cut line visible, giving you access to the full printing area.

Any part of an image in the pink "Cut Area" will be cut off at printing (it will be wrapped around the sides if you're working on a gallery wrap canvas). If you want your design to cover the entire product, the entire cut area must be covered by the image even though that will be cut off.

You can also activate the Snap To Grid mode that will appear below the Free-form button once you're working from this mode. The snap to grid mode still allows complete control over photo placement but offers the added benefit of automatically snapping to a grid line so that you can align the photos evenly. 

Note: It is best to have all the images you plan to use on the project before beginning to work in Free-form mode; images added later will be placed at random and will conflict with the current design.

Overlap Options

Free Form Mode allows you to stack images on top of each other in your design. In order to bring an image on top of another image, or push an image behind another overlapping image, click the photo, then click  Image title to bring the image forward and Image title to push the image back.

Image title

If you decide you want to turn the automated layout back on, click  next to Free-form.  All free form work will be undone if you switch off Free-form mode.