March 30, 2011

#13 - Go left (or right).

Better photos with your subject off centre.

Must. Resist. Temptation.

That little voice in your head is going to tell you to place the subject of you next photo smack dab in the centre of your screen. Don’t listen to it. After all, this is the same inner voice that told you to eat that sweet, sweet chocolate cake on your birthday.

In short, that voice is a liar.

One of the first things they teach you in photo school is that images are more powerful when you put your subject off the left or right of your photo. Snapping a landscape? Put that tree off to the left. Taking a portrait? Put your subject on the side.

Think of the screen on the back of your camera as a Tic Tac Toe grid – or if you’re old enough, the grid from the opening credits of "The Brady Bunch." The best spot to place the most important part of your subject (like the eyes in a portrait) is about a third in and a third down. Photographers call this the Rule of Thirds (the photo divided into three sections of three). You just need to know to stay away from the centre.

Turn on your grid.
Most cameras will help you do the work. Pull out the manual and you’ll discover that many screens come with built in gridelines. I keep these lines on at all times. They help me figure out where to place my subject and serve as a guide to make sure my shot is straight.

Try both sides.
Which side is better for your photo? Depends on the shot and the only way to find out is to try the shot out. Go left. Go right. Turn the camera vertical and try the top and bottom. No matter what you end up choosing, you’re going to end up with an infinitely better looking pic.

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