A simple technique, but one providing striking results is the application of the ‘Rule of Thirds’ to your photograph composition. Once you know what to look for, you will notice that many professional photographers use this technique effectively.
If you’re enrolled in a photography school, this composition technique will probably be one that you will learn about early on. It is one of the fundamental principles in composition and provides your viewers with a more compelling result that holds their interest.
You might find some people who argue that this rule isn’t always applicable. While this is true, you will do well to always keep this technique in mind when you compose your photographs. If you do decide to abandon this rule, do so only after you consider if your photograph can actually not benefit significantly from the use of this technique.
A simple visualization of this technique can be done if you imagine the image in your viewfinder as split up into three vertical and three horizontal sections. Essentially, you will end up with 9 parts in your viewfinder. While some digital cameras will allow you to draw gridlines in your viewfinder to aid with the rule of thirds, you can always use your imagination and draw these lines mentally yourself.
By separating your photograph into these 9 parts, you can place your subject or area of interest in one of four locations in your composition. Additionally, it also allows you to place any other objects along the four lines that result from dividing the viewfinder.
If you align your subject or points of interest along the lines or at the intersections of the lines, then you can achieve more balance and will provide a more natural viewing experience. Studies have shown that viewer’s eyes will automatically travel to one of these intersections naturally. This is more apparent that the eyes traveling to the center of the photo. By leveraging this natural eye movement, you are automatically letting the viewer get to your subject a lot sooner. It may require some practice to get right, but if you keep at it, the technique will come naturally to you when framing your photos.
Some things you should consider when framing your photo are:
– What are my points of interest or my subjects?
– How can I place them in these locations so that I maximize the attention of the viewer?
It is recommended that you learn this technique to a point where it becomes second nature to you. After you are comfortable with this rule, you can then experiment further by altering the locations of your subjects and points of interest. There are some shots that just cry out for breaking of the rule. When you’re experienced, you will know what these shots are. Even if you don’t hit the correct locations, digital photography is forgiving in the way it allows you to post process by cropping and re-framing to achieve that perfect rule of thirds shot.
This can be a little confusing but press on and keep these things in mind. If you feel that you’d like these tips and others (many others) explained in more detail, give David’s guide some consideration or at least a look because it’s right up there with the most informative photography guides I’ve ever read and takes you to a point where you achieve great results really fast. You can see it here. Otherwise just keep practicing until you get it.