In our last Photos Matter post, we finished up a series on exposure, which contained a bunch of technical stuff about settings and things (you can find those posts here: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, and Part 4). This month, I figured we’d do something a little less technical… something that anyone can do with any camera.
Rules of composition are guidelines for composing a more interesting shot when taking pictures. There are several, but we will talk about three of them today: the rule of thirds, framing, and leading lines.
Rule of Thirds
Most of us have a tendency to center the subject of our images in the frame of our camera, but this leads to a visually boring image. The rule of thirds helps us to avoid falling into this trap. If you were to have two parallel lines drawn vertically on your image (or the screen of your camera) and two parallel lines drawn horizontally, the rule of thirds says that the main focus of your picture should be at one of the four intersections of these lines.
Remember that with people, the focal point is almost always the eyes.
In landscape shots, the horizon should fall along one of the two horizontal lines.
*Tip: If your camera focuses in the middle of the screen (your phone camera, for example), center your subject and then crop it according the the rule of thirds after you’ve taken it.
This rule is just what it sounds like: something in your image creates a natural frame around your subject. Common examples of this are windows and doors, but it can also be more subtle than that. You might have trees framing the edges of your image, for example.
Whatever your “frame” is, it should serve the purpose of drawing the eye to the focal point of your image.
This might be my favorite rule of composition. When taking a picture, including a linear element that leads your eye to your subject is a really effective way to add interest. Common examples are roads or paths, but the leading lines can also be more subtle than that.
There you have it! A few tips to help make your photos more eye-catching. Remember, these rules of composition aren’t absolute. They are just guidelines to get you thinking outside of the box. They don’t have to be followed every single time, but if you keep them in mind as you’re composing your shot, you will notice your images becoming more interesting!