The secret to taking great photographs isn’t having the right camera body, type of lenses, or the latest and greatest thousand-dollar accessory. Sure, having all that can help (and don’t I wish I had it all). But the key ingredient for superb photographs is fantastic composition.
Composition is how you frame/place your subjects in the picture. If you’re unfamiliar with the term or don’t even know how to start composing a “good” picture, no fear! The rest of this post will walk you through a tried-and-true composition “rule” that’ll help you get started with creating visually interesting photographs.
Most beginning photographers rely on a technique called The Rule of Thirds. I still follow this rule about 80% of the time because it helps me place subjects in a way that looks comprehensively appealing. Now, Digital Photography School has a great article about the Rule of Thirds. I suggest you to pop over there and read it then come back to see more examples. But if that’s TL;DR, here’s my attempt at an explanation…
What is the Rule of Thirds?
First, imagine a grid over your camera’s viewfinder. Looks like this, yeah?
Notice how it is split into thirds, both horizontally and vertically. But do not get confused as I once did – DO NOT focus on the 9 little rectangles. Instead, focus on the lines’ intersections and the dividing lines themselves. They are highlighted in red in the pictures below (source: DPS).
How Do I Use the Rule of Thirds?
Now when you take a picture, place your subject either on an intersection or along a dividing line. You do not have to have a subject on all 4 intersections or lines (but I suppose you could go ham and do that…?)!
That’s the Rule of Thirds. Simple, right? This kind of composition creates a more dynamic photograph that engages the viewer’s eyes to travel across the entire picture.
Can you determine which intersection or line I placed the following subject(s) on?
Were you able to imagine the Rule of Thirds grid over the pictures above? Now imagine the same grid the next time you take a picture. At the coffee shop, work, in your car – doesn’t matter where, practice this technique every chance you get and soon it’ll become second nature! Or you may be fancy and already have a grid built into your camera’s viewfinder.
Don’t forget that rules are also meant to be broken! If you find a compelling subject that screams for symmetry, balance, centered, etc. DO IT! In the end, do what feels right for you.
No matter what, go forth and create better photographs with your newfound knowledge!
Still have questions? Or do you have your own suggestions on how to take better photographs? Discuss in the comments below!
Thanks for reading!
P.S. I said it’s not all about the gear, buuuut if you want to know what I use, I shared it here: My Everyday Camera Gear