Rules are there to be broken on occasion and that is certainly the case with the rules of composition! The ‘rules’ are great and lead to some fantastic photos but it is ok to bend or even break them on occasion to create something even more special! It is perhaps better to consider them as guidelines but as you become more confident with your work you can increase the amount you break outside of them.

Let me go into just a few of the rules (there are many more!) and how they can work when broken…

Rule of thirds
This is a simple rule to follow especially with the help of many camera viewfinders which have visible guides. The general principle of the rule of thirds is that either vertically or horizontally you will have your key focal point of the photo on a third line and ideally on the intersection of two third lines. An alternative version of the rule is to split the photo into three parts each taking up a third. Breaking it though can produce equally appealing photos, for example putting the subject dead centre

Here the subject isn’t on the third line but photo is split into three thirds. The bottom third the ground, the central third contains the main portion of the horse and the handler and the top third sky and framing tree above.

Following the rule of thirds. The subjects eye sits perfectly on the intersection of the third lines

Breaking the rule of thirds the subject is central in the frame

Another photo to break the rule of thirds!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fill the Frame
This doesn’t require much explanation, don’t have much empty space around your subject. On the same vein though this can be broken and lots of empty space can be great. Also some empty space can work well. In other words this ‘rule’ is constantly being broken. What is important is that if empty space is used, is that it has a purpose, it should lead your eye to the subject. Empty space should not be confused with a busy or distracting background.

Filling the frame can work really well!

But also lots of empty space can make a photo!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Keep lines straight
A horizon, horizontal or vertical line within a photo which should be level but isn’t can be a big distraction, so make sure to edit your images to straighten any slightly wonky lines. But purposefully wonky lines can work well but they they need to look intentionally wonky!

Ensuring the horizon line is straight in a photo such as this is a must.

But here a purposefully wonky angle works! The horse is vertical but the background is skewed

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Motion blur
Normally you will look to achieve sharp images with no motion blur, and for portraiture this will normally stay true. When photographing a moving subject motion blur can create a new dynamic to the picture. You will need to practice if going for more extreme

Minor motion blur can add to an image to give it a sense of movement

Or you can even go all out with the motion blur

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Direction of Movement
The rule states the subject should be moving or looking into the frame.

The subject here looks out of the frame. The image woks as we are concentrating more on her action of putting in her earring rather than where she is looking.

But here following the rules looks in. This image would look wrong with empty space behind instead of infront as here the space leads you towards the mystery unseen person Sam is speaking to

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