One of the most beneficial rules in photography is a simple one called "The Rule of Thirds". This one rule can be helpful to amateurs and professionals alike. Practicing this rule will help you set up your composition and it's not difficult to learn and apply. Making it a habit whenever you take photos will drastically improve the quality of your images.
Believe it or not, we already think in terms of the Rule of Thirds even though we do not realize it. Following this rule is important to get things going so to speak, taking pictures that are pleasing to the eye. If the view finder in your camera has a grid option this is specifically why it's there, and it makes it easy. Otherwise you'll have to imagine it. Imagine your viewfinder as a tic-tac-toe game, with horizontal and vertical lines.
Check out your subject in relationship to those lines. The horizon should run close to either the top or bottom line. This would mean that the sky in a landscape or the background would take up either 1/3 or 2/3 of the image. This creates impact. Take a look at some magazine ads, or some pictures taken by famous photographers and you'll see what I'm talking about. You'll see that the sky or ocean in relation to everything else take up most of the frame. Great artists have applied this rule even before the camera was invented! In photography, the four points where your tic-tac-toe lines meet are called "sweet spots". Pay attention to your image in relationship to these points for a more balanced picture. Good photographers also include diagonal lines. If these lines run through 1 or more of these sweet spots, you'll have a much more pleasing image.
Applying this rule matters not only in relation to your individual subject, but to any photo you take. Now this is not a hard and fast rule. As that old saying goes, rules are meant to be broken. You must be willing to break the rule now and then. Just understand the importance of the different parts in order to produce some truly great images! That being said, not everything will fit this "grid" or the sweet spots.
Keeping in mind and practicing the "Rule of Thirds" you'll find yourself producing some wonderful pictures that have real impact. It does not just apply to portraits or single subjects either. You can practice this in landscapes and still life pictures too.
Also, whenever the opportunity presents itself, play around with different angles. If a certain subject looks good in your framework from straight on, how would it look from below or above? Let your imagination and creativity flow. Remember, no matter whom you are, or what level of expertise you are at, you can take great pictures in very little time. Just make the rule of thirds a mind set and use it at every opportunity. Happy picture taking!
Copyright 2010 – Don Bordua