This is Meg at Snap Happy Mom. I know that there’s lots to think about when you take a photo, and it can feel overwhelming sometimes! These are my top three things to think about when you’re composing a photograph – they are all simple but very effective tips for composition!
Rule of Thirds
You’ve probably heard of this rule, for good reason. It’s simply the most accepted guideline for how to create a pleasing composition in a photograph. Following the rule of thirds is an easy way to take an interesting and balanced picture. Here’s how it works:
In your head, imagine splitting your frame into thirds both horizontally and visually. Basically, the rule of thirds states that important visual elements should be placed along the intersections of those lines, because that’s where the viewers eye will be drawn anyway. Instead of centering your subject, which can feel boring and awkward, the rule of thirds focuses on creating a pleasing image. It’s not about centering your subject – it’s about creating something that feels interesting, balanced, and natural to the viewer.
So next time you’re choosing where to put your subject in the frame, focus on getting them out of the dead center and more towards the side. Line up any important elements, like faces or eyes, along those third lines, and especially at one of the four points of intersection. You’ll be well on your way to taking images that are way more interesting than a boring, centered mug shot!
This tip applies to any “lines” in your photo: the horizon, walls, doorframes, windows, steps… anything that is a strong horizontal or vertical line in your photo. You need to “square up” those lines, so they go straight up and down or straight across the frame.
The problem is that crooked lines are distracting – your brain knows certain lines should be straight, so when they aren’t exactly horizontal or vertical, you can tell something is off.
So make it a point to stand at a right angle to the important elements. If you’re shooting a wall or building and you can see prominent lines, then you want to stand with your body square to that building. Then, use the grid function on your camera phone on in the viewfinder to line up any prominent lines in the frame with the guidelines provided. It’s a tiny thing that makes a big difference in your photos!
Now, this doesn’t mean you can’t tilt those lines on purpose… diagonal lines can be dynamic and creative! Just don’t accidentally let those lines get crooked, because it lessens the impact of your photos.
Fill up the frame with what’s important.
If you’re behind the camera, then you’re in charge of what’s in that photo! Fill up the frame with the things that are important, and leave the rest out. That means you should avoid distracting backgrounds, especially when they don’t have anything to do with your child! Choose to take the picture from an angle or direction that doesn’t show clutter, unknown people, or unnecessary elements.
However, filling up the frame is more than avoiding distractions – it’s also choosing what is in the picture that helps tell the story you want to tell. It helps to get used to moving your feet when you have a camera in your hand- If you’re taking a picture of your daughter’s expression with that first birthday cake, then it would make sense to get a close up of her face. But, if the story is more about the all the people around her smiling as you sing happy birthday, then it would be better to stand back and get a shot that shows family interaction amidst birthday décor and festivity. You choose!
Before you snap away without thought, think about what story you want to tell, and choose how you fill up that frame. You’re in charge, so think before you shoot.
WANT TO LEARN MORE ABOUT PHOTOGRAPHY?
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For more photography tips, go HERE.