Please note these are
guidelines, not rules. For each of these points, an opposite
artistic argument could be made. Go there if you must, but
if you do, you miss the point of the list. Concentrate on
the basics first, and then you earn the right to get fancy
and ignore them.
clear on your subject. What story are you trying to tell
with the photo?
Draw attention to the subject. This can be done by simply
getting closer, using selective focus, using color, lighting
just the subject, framing the subject in a doorway or
Simple is best. Remove anything that doesnít help you tell
When in doubt, leave it out. If there is something in the
field of view irrelevant to the subject or that doesnít
somehow support the subject, get rid of it.
Check your negative space. Donít leave too much negative
space; when there is negative space, be sure to use it
right. Leave room for the subject in the frame unless there
is a specific reason to not.
Fill the frame. You rarely can go wrong by filling the frame
with the main subject. Many of the best pictures are the
simplest ones. It is unnecessary to add background for the
sake of adding background.
Check the edges of the frames. Donít cut off feet or hands
of the subject half way. If you want to exclude those
appendages, make sure it is clear you meant to do so. Make a
clean crop well above the wrist, for instance, if you donít
want to include the hands.
8. Check for
intruders. Is there something popping into the picture from
the side? Is there a tree branch, power line, or telephone
poll that creeps into the shot and steals attention from the
subject? Recompose and remove it.
Remember POV Ė point of view. Shoot up on objects to make
them more powerful. Shoot down on subjects to diminish them
or make them look less imposing.
Use the rule of thirds. Draw a tic-tac-toe board over the
picture in your mind. Position the subject at one of the
four intersecting corners in the grid.
making portraits, always keep the eyes above the center line
in the photo.
Strive for balance. Look at the composition and determine if
thereís something out of place that tilts the viewerís
attention one way or the other.
The eye goes to the brightest part of the scene first. Donít
let anything in the photo be brighter than the main subject.
14. Add depth
by including strong foreground objects in shots where the
background is also important.
Shoot vertically to enhance tall objects or emphasize
height. Shoot horizontally to emphasize width.
Use patterns, particularly repeating patterns, to make
pictures more interesting.
leading lines to attract the viewerís eye where you want it
S-curves or shapes as a more relaxed, casual way to lead the
eye through the composition. A road or a stream are good
examples of this approach.
19. Start by
shooting at the subjectís eye level. For example, get down
low when making a child or animalís portrait, rather than
standing over them and shooting down on them.
20. Make sure
there is separation between multiple subjects to avoid
center everything unless thereís a reason.
Donít let the horizon fall dead center in the picture.
Donít let the horizon cut through the head of any human or
Donít let the horizon merge with objects that are important
to the image, and make sure it is level.
Right before making the photo, take a second, look up, look
down, look all around, and make sure thereís nothing youíre
Scott Bourne -