Making Better Photographs
The great American photographer, Ansel Adams, is quoted as saying:
“You don’t take a photograph, you make it.”
Take a moment to absorb that. It requires a change in your thinking as a photographer.
Rather than pressing the button and seeing what you get, put some deliberate thought into what you’re doing first and “make” a photograph.
Ansel was a stickler for great composition. And he had to be. He was shooting in a film-only era and shooting quite expensive film at that.
Oh, there’ll be photographers and even photography educators who’ll tell you that you photography has set rules and how you compose a photo is one of them. It’s just not true. YOU are in charge of your photography. YOU get to decide what to photograph and how to photograph it.
And with as many Megapixels as our cameras have these days, you should even shoot your photographs a little bit loosely and crop them to your desire later. Reason being that what you see in your camera at the time you press the button might not be the “best” way to compose the photo. So pull back a bit, shoot it a bit loosely and recompose later. There’s nothing wrong with that just as there’s nothing wrong with processing your photo as you wish.
Rules are meant to be broken as they say…and that includes photography. Especially photography.
Rule of Thirds
This is easily the one photographic rule that people seem to be able to name. Imagine a photograph or a rectangle which is divided vertically and horizontally in thirds. Kind of like tic-tac-toe (see example).
The rule states that photos are more compelling to look at if the subject is roughly at the intersection of two of those lines.
In this example photo with the cheerleaders I shot during a football game here in Utah, you can see that the cheerleader is placed on the right and is roughly in the right third of the frame. Additionally, her head is positioned near the intersection of the thirds lines.
I think most people forget this one, but know what it is when they see it.
It’s really just aligning objects in a way that lead your eyes through the frame. It’s a very effective tool and thus why it’s often used.
In this example below of dancers at halftime of a football game I shot, the way the dancers are arranged along the 50-yard-line draws your attention to the dancer in the foreground.
It’s also a Rule of Thirds example as she’s mainly in one third of the frame and her head is pretty close to one of those intersection points like we talked about above.