Quick Tips For Better Photos: Keep it Off Center

Hey friends, I think it’s safe to say that most of us like to take photos, right?  But I also realize that most people don’t actually want to learn photography, what they want is a few easy tips to take better photos.  So I’m writing this series to help you with that, whether you have an SLR, a point and shoot camera, or even a smart phone.

Do you tend to place your subject right in the middle of frame when you take a picture?  I promise that this tip can give you much more exciting photos.

It’s called the Rule of Thirds, but you don’t need to worry about the name, just know that by placing your subject off-center, it usually generates a more interesting photo. (I say usually because this is a rule in photography that can be broken!)

I took these samples yesterday on my morning walk.  These are screen shots taken with my phone so you can see the grid overlay (This is a feature you can turn on in your phone settings under photos & camera.).  See how the grid creates 9 boxes?  The Rule of Thirds simply means placing your subject on the intersection of two lines.  Or just keep your subject away from the middle.

See the grid and the placement of the tree?

Here the image on the left is kind of boring, but on the right we’re getting more of the reflection and more of the pond while cutting out a part of the sky that’s not very exciting.  It gives the viewer a better sense of place.

Here the image on the left is kind of stagnant, my eye goes right to the bench and stays there.  On the right, I kind of take in the whole scene: the water, the trail, the ducks, and the bench.

Can you see it?  The idea is that when someone looks at a photograph and the subject is placed in the very middle, the viewer’s eye goes right to that spot… and that’s it. They’re ready to move on to the next photo.  But say if your subject is off to the side, the viewer becomes more engaged. They may start at that same subject, but then their eye starts to travel all around the image to take it all in.  And that is what you want, that is what makes a good photograph!

Here are more examples:

Rule of Thirds - K Dickinson Photography

The sky is way more exciting than the grass!  I think the image on the right gives an overall moodiness to the photo that you definitely don’t get in the image on the left.

Rule of Thirds - K Dickinson Photography

Yes, the eagle on the left is cool, but the guy on the right is also cool, plus your eye follows the fence posts and you notice the ski hill in the background.

Rule of Thirds - K Dickinson Photography

I don’t know about you, but in the image on the left, my eye kind of stays stuck right on the lighthouse.  On the right, I also notice the reflection of the lighthouse and the ice in the water.  In this case, you could also put the lighthouse on the bottom of the frame and showcase the beautiful sky.

Try shooting your subject with the Rule of Thirds in mind for a more compelling image, to tell a better story, or to give a sense of place!

Hey, did you know I’ve put all of my photo tips in one place?  You can see them all right here!

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