Composition is super important for telling a story with your imagery.
If you struggle with composition in your photos the easiest thing to do to improve is to think about the Rule of Thirds as you’re are taking and editing photos. Seen below, the Rule of Thirds states that images are more pleasing when the main focal points of the image align along the intersections of the horizontal and vertical lines separating an image into thirds.
The easiest starting point is to place only one main focal point along one of the intersections of the horizontal and vertical thirds. In this image below, the phone case is located on the intersection of the right third and top third. If you only take photos on your iPhone using the Rule of Thirds is simple. All you need to do is go into Instagram or the camera settings on your phone and turn on the Grid.
Once you’re feeling more confident with having one focal point, add a second focal point that helps tell the rest of the story of the image. I love the image below because it shows Julia, but the table on the balcony is what really sets the scene. Remove the table on the balcony and it’s just Julia in a cute outfit sipping some coffee. Add in the table on the balcony and you have Julia, about to enjoy an amazing weekend brunch along the balcony of the Parisian apartment we rented. The addition of the flowers, croissants, coffee and strawberries makes you dream of living that moment.
Any time you’re playing with two focal points, it’s best to figure out how you want the viewer to progress through the image. In general, the larger and/or closer focal point will be where the viewer’s eyes will start. The story of your image should be about this subject with the second focal point playing a supporting role. By placing the other focal points along the other thirds, the viewer has an easier transition to the rest of the image. When I look at the photo above, first I see Julia’s eyes and then I see the flowers. In the image below my eyes go to the leaves on the top left, since they are larger and closer and then my eyes find their way to the dancing girl statue. When taking this picture I wanted to show a pristine spot where you could sit on a bench and marvel at the beauty that this small town of Weggis, Switzerland had to offer.
Crop to Rule of Thirds
Didn’t get the image right in camera? That’s ok, as long as you were close it’s super easy to crop your image in Lightroom, Photoshop or any other image editing software. In fact, all cropping tools I’ve ever used have the Thirds Grid built into the design. In the image below, I wanted to highlight Julia on the beach, the rock wall going off into the horizon and the really cool shape of the palm tree above.
The Rule doesn’t always apply
Remember, that the Rule of Thirds doesn’t always apply. While I’m visualizing the Rule of Thirds anytime I’m shooting Landscapes or Lifestyle shots. I’m less picky about the Rule if I’m shooting highly symmetrical shots or when shooting style photos. Here are two examples below.