What makes an image memorable? Sharpness? Exposure? Capturing the moment? All these are important to the success of your photo but there is one thing that sets a great photo apart from the rest—composition.
In layman’s terms that means Don’t drop your main subject into the middle of the frame. Instead, use the “rule of thirds.” Divide your frame into thirds, both horizontally and vertically and then place the focal point of your main subject at one of the spots where the lines intersect. Place your subject where it has the most impact. Embed it into the heart and mind of the viewer. Curves and lines can draw attention into your creation. Find converging lines, a winding path, look for the flow of direction from foreground to background.
Even in the movies, the main subject is usually set off to one side or the other, making the framing more interesting.
A subject that is taller than wide may be more intriguing in the same orientation. Try changing your orientation from horizontal to vertical (i.e. landscape to portrait). Conversely, using the opposing orientation may help to include more of the surrounding and tell a greater story. Do both, after all with digital photography it costs nothing to take extra shots.
Portraits are a good example of this. Shot horizontally with the subject smack in the middle of the frame is the hallmark of the snapshot. Turn your camera to the portrait position, move closer to your model, and capture them. Or, as mentioned above, place them according to the “rule of thirds” in a horizontal image and include a background or objects that help the viewer know them better. Notice the placement of the subject’s eyes in the portrait below. (I’ll say more on portraits in another post)
Photography is an artistic form of self-expression. The creation of an image is a rewarding and pleasurable experience in itself; more than just a recording of events. Take time to move around your subject. View and feel the light and shadows; find the best angle. Set your subject to one of the points from the “rule of thirds.” Then shoot and share the results. Oh, did I mention the “rule of thirds?” Norm Hamilton