Here is a simple technique that will make you an instantly better photographer if you get the hang of it (assuming you don’t already). It is probably the most basic and easy to understand compositional aids there is. It is called… “The Rule of thirds”.
Imagine that you have a grid on your focusing screen (viewing screens for those of you using consumer digital cameras have a setting that allows you to overlay the grid on your screen so you don’t have to imagine). This grid divides your viewing area into thirds, both horizontally and vertically. If you place your subject (point of interest) onto one of these lines then you are automatically creating a more dynamic photograph. If you can place the same subject at one of the intersection points the you are making an even more dynamic photo. Why?
I’ll try to tell you why. For whatever reason, the brain likes to make things neat and orderly. It focuses the eyes on the center of most photos first. IF the subject is NOT there, then your brain sends the eyes in search of it. It is this tension that creates interest in a photo (very simplified). Look at the following example:
Notice that the important parts of this photo ALL fall on a grid line. Further more, the bride’s head rests at the intersection of two grid lines. Additionally (but not as important) the two out of focus people in the background ALSO reside on a grid line. There is a lot going on compositionally here. Add to that the panning (see last weeks technique) and you have a dynamic image of a bride being escorted by her mother. This shot is usually seen taken from the front and is static. I prefer this. How about you?
There are a LOT of different compositional tools,techniques and rules to learn. Practice this one to the point that you don’t have to think about it and you will be fast on your way to both loving your photos and nearly as important, other people loving your photos. I would love to hear your thoughts or questions regarding this. Below is the same image without the grid. Happy shooting.