Photo Tip – Composing Your Photos

Rule of Thirds – The easiest compostional form to use!

I’ve loved teaching photography over the years and through different venues like Wake Tech, NC State’s Technology Training Solutions division, and my own business. We like sharing some nuggets on the blog occasionally and all of these tips come from the boat loads of course content that we’ve developed over the years and that we will eventually incorporate into online courses! For more info, check out our photography training page here and enjoy the tip!

The rule of thirds is the easiest compositional form / rule to use because you can almost always use it regardless of the image you’re photographing!

First, let’s back up and define composition. Composition is simply the arrangement of elements in an image to make it more pleasing.

You almost always have a primary subject in an image. This is the main focal point or dominant subject in the composition. Most people naturally put this primary subject in the dead center of the image frame. While this can work some of the time, it usually doesn’t create very much impact and makes the image somewhat static. Try placing your primary subject off center and on one of the 4 power points in the frame (see diagram below). These 4 power points are areas in the frame where subjects will have the most impact from a compositional standpoint. Also (big tip here) when you have a horizon line in an image, put the horizon on one of the two horizontal third lines. If you want to emphasize the the sky, put it on the bottom third line, and if your image has more to emphasize in the foreground, put the horizon line on the top third line. Notice how in the lighthouse image below the horizon line is on the bottom third line and the lighthouse is on the left vertical third line. When you put your horizon line in the middle, it cuts the frame in half and divides the image. Give this a try and see how much it helps improve your images and happy shooting!

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