What makes one photograph more compelling than another? Well, there are many elements that set images apart, but one of the key factors is having eye-catching composition.
Professional photographers create good composition by understanding and employing certain artistic rules. These so-called “rules” of composition have been established by artists for centuries, which is one of the reasons that masterpieces, such as DaVinci’s Mona Lisa, have stood the test of time.
But wait a second. What on earth has this got to do with the photos I take with my phone camera?
Well, actually, quite a lot.
Understanding how to create a harmonious composition is universally beneficial. And this is true whether you’re an old-world master or on vacation at the beach. These rules work because the human eye is drawn to content in a certain way. When the brain can make good sense of a scene — through a pleasing composition — then it “likes” what it sees.
Lesson 1: Rule of Thirds
One underlying compositional principle that can help your photos look more pleasing and dynamic is known as the Rule of Thirds. What this means is that whatever the photographer wants to place most emphasis on is more harmonious when it’s not dead center within the frame.
Take a look at the two example photos at the top of this collage. The barn and the boy are both off-center. But it’s more than that. In the case of the barn, it’s located within both the lower and the left third of the frame. The boy’s head is in the left third as well as the upper third of the frame. Both of these samples are following the rule of thirds.
The two photos underneath, which are similar in subject matter feature a barn and a boy that are fairly centered. The technical quality of the photos is similar to the top two. However, they seem more stagnant and have less eye-catching composition than the ones following the rule of thirds.
Lesson 1 conclusion
Understanding the rule of thirds will set you well on a path of improving your photography. It helps to set your photos apart from the crowd! Stay tuned for more tips and tricks to great phonography!