If you look around the internet or an app like Instagram, you will quickly notice how many photographers place their subject directly in the middle of the frame. Have a look at your favourite photography site; I hope you’ll notice these images with their subjects in the middle are somewhat boring. There is little life in the photos and there’s certainly no action.
When the subject is directly in the middle of an image the eye goes directly to the middle and moves nowhere else around the frame. Your eye stops.
Why is this an issue? Well, if there is anything else of interest in the photo it gets missed and all the hard work of capturing the image is all for not. Plus, your travel photos look like everyone else’s subject in the middle pictures. Honestly, there is little creativity in approaching photography as everyone else would. I’m going to show you how moving your subject away from the middle of the frame will instantly strengthen your photo composition.
Yes, improving your photo composition is as simple as placing your subject off-centre.
Let’s look at a few examples. The image of the single white rose amongst the black background is nice. The lighting, in particular, is beautiful. The eye, however, goes directly to the middle of the flower and the nice shadows on the outer petals are lost. The eye doesn’t see the most interesting bit.
Photo of White Rose in the Middle of the Frame
I intentionally cropped the left part of the photo so now the flower is situated in the left of the frame. Do you notice how now your eye goes to the outer edges of the rose? By moving the subject off centre the composition is now much stronger and the eye naturally moves to the important parts of the subject. Instead of cropping an image in post-production, simply move around to capture your image with the subject away from the middle.
Photo of White Rose Off-Centre
The lines from the railroad tracks save this image but only slightly. Had the photographer simply shifted his or her position and captured this scene at an angle with the person off centre the composition would be a winner and the photo would be far more interesting.
Photo of Person on Railroad Tracks
Simply moving the subject off centre – left or right, photo composition becomes stronger. You don’t have to move the subject right to the edge of your frame for this technique to be effective. Please do make note of this. Off centre is key. Do you notice how the image improves when moving the subject off-centre? Do you also notice there is even a sense of movement because of the way the lines are presented and because of the direction of the front foot?
Photo Showing How Putting the Subject Off-Centre Improves Photo Composition.
There are several elements that are right about the image below. The light pink of the flowering tree against the pale blue sky work beautifully together. The suggested sun behind the tree is perfect and adds a feeling of spring and warmth. More than this the blowing flower petals into the right of the frame are fantastic. The photographer who captured this has a great eye to see this scene. Everything in this photo works, especially the blowing flower petals because the main subject is situated in the left of the frame – off centre. Had the photographer put the tree branch in the middle the more interesting elements would be lost entirely.
Photo of a flowering branch with the subject off-centre.
I love this image of the derelict car. The muted colours add to the sense that the car is old. The rust throughout the interior of the car definitely suggests it’s old. The prominent steering wheel on the left is big and bold and the eye naturally moves to the empty space to the right. Was someone there? Or what happened in that seat you might ask. This is a great storytelling photo and being off centre helps tremendously with a nice composition.
Photo of a derelict car interior.
Have a look at the Icelandic horse in the left of the frame. Why does this work? Yes, it works because the subject is not in the middle but the way the horse’s hair is positioned suggests the wind is blowing from the right. By placing the horse on the left of the frame we can conclude the way the wind is blowing. And this makes for a very effective composition. If you’ve not been to Iceland, stop now and go. Iceland is one of the most wonderful countries you could ever visit.
Photo of Icelandic Horse
This perspective of the Golden Gate Bridge is stunning. The photo works because the tallest part of the bridge is toward the left of the frame. Do you notice it is not all the way to the left and the placement works well? When you look at the photo your eye goes right down onto the road and this is quite nice. Had the tallest part of the bridge been situated directly in the middle, it would stop the eye from moving anywhere but there.
Photo of Aerial View of the Golden Gate Bridge
Always remember to keep your subject off centre for a strong composition. Give this photo composition tip – Avoiding The Middle, a go to see first-hand how your own travel photos drastically improve.