Photography Rules of Composition:
Positioning Your Subject

Photography rules of composition: the next one that you must understand is how to properly position your subject in the frame. You want to break the rules? Well, you need to master them first, so read on!

Positioning Moving Objects

Objects that can move, like people, animals, or cars, should be given room in the picture space to move into. If you put your frame boundary right in front of a moving object, it either looks like it's going to "hit a wall," or that it's moving right out of the picture.

photography composition
The horses have somewhere to move into.
© Julie Waterhouse Photography

photography composition
The horses have unnecessary room behind them,
but nowhere to go but out of the frame.
© Julie Waterhouse Photography

Leave space in the picture frame "open" in front of a moving object. The fast the object appears to be moving, the more space it can handle in front of it. The view imagines that the subject continues to move, and visualizes it moving through the picture space.

photography rules of composition
Lots of room to run.
© Peter Ainley

 

Positioning Heads

Avoid having a line pass "through" someone's head in your photograph. It is very distracting.

photography rules of composition: subject positioning
The back of a couch creates a line through the baby's head.
© Peter Ainley

photography rules of composition: subject positioning
Change your shooting angle to get rid of the line.
© Peter Ainley

Move around and change your shooting angle so that what is behind your subject is as neutral as possible. Try to get down and shoot at the level of your subject, too.

photography rules of composition: subject positioning
The flower bed creates a line through the baby's head.
© Peter Ainley

photography rules of composition: subject positioning
Change your shooting angle to
get rid of the line.
© Peter Ainley

 

Pointing

If you have an element in your photography composition that "points" (it doesn't have to be a person, it could be an inanimate object like a tree branch, too), then it's a good idea to keep it pointing into the picture space, and not out of it. The viewer's eye will tend to follow the direction of the lines in your image, so you don't want to point them right out of your picture!

 

I recommend you read the next of the photography rules of composition: visual weight.

 

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