In the last post, we established the importance of moving your subject away from the middle of the frame.  You won’t make the mistake countless other photographers make, right?  Remember, when you place your subject directly in the middle of the frame, the eye goes directly to the middle and moves nowhere else.

Your photo composition will be stronger by being off-centre.  Besides, what is original about being like everyone else?

Let’s have a look at more photo examples.  I’ll explain why being in the middle doesn’t always work.  Also feel free to download a free PDF with additional examples of avoiding the middle in photo composition.

I am unsure what story is to be derived from this photo except “blue shoe.” My eye goes to the shoe directly in the middle of the photo and stops.  Too, there are too many lines and circular shapes that leave the viewer confused after leaving the middle. Where are we supposed to look?  For me, it’s frustrating to look at this image for all the reasons above.

This image has potential but fails the composition test for a variety of reasons. The silhouette is nice, yes, the subject directly in the middle of the photograph stops the eye from moving about the image.

Secondly, the photographer should have moved in closer (or zoomed in) to fill the frame for a more effective composition. Simply eliminating the dark spaces at the top of the photo and at the bottom of the photo would allow us to see some type of emotion. The emotion could be anxiety, despair, apprehension, or the like. Right now all we see is a person standing with his/her head tilted downward.

I’ve taken the liberty of cropping the photograph in Lightroom.  Do you notice the difference?  Having the person off-centre and to the right of the photo frame, the image begins to tell a story.  What story do you see?

Another Example:

At first glance, I like the image. At second glance I look at the photo and the golden yellow leaf stops me from looking elsewhere. There are interesting elements in the image that are missed.  The photographer is too clever for his/her own good.

Visualize the subject off-centre. Had the photographer placed the subject to the left or right of centre then our eyes would move across the photo until we reached the golden leaf.  We, the viewer, would notice and take in all of the interesting elements.   In this case, the viewer of the photo would take in the contents of the entire photograph and a stronger composition.   However, the photographer did not achieve this for us.

Study this image.
What two composition mistakes do you notice?

While you view this image think what the photographer could have done to improve the photo composition. When you are confident you know the answers, go to the next photo.

From the previous photo, which improvements did you suggest?

I’ve made my own adjustments and the composition improved somewhat.

First, the subject was moved off-centre so the eye moves about the photo before reaching the man at the end of the concrete jetty. Second, the sky was eliminated so the frame is filled a bit more. Could the frame be filled even more?  Perhaps so.

The colours in the image were always beautiful and complimentary. The blue, aqua and green blend nicely. And, the line created by the jetty naturally leads the eye to the subject.  We will discuss the importance of colour and lines in an upcoming post.

I really want to love this image because I love nature and rugged landscapes.  Travel photography and hiking go hand in hand together.

By now, it’s no secret why I object to the composition.  Yes, you guessed correctly.  The subjects are in the middle and the frame is not filled.  Where does your eye go?  Mine goes everywhere as there is so much to view in this photograph.  Left, right, up and down.  A winning image turns out to be frustrating and a disappointment.

I helped out the photographer a wee bit and cropped unnecessary bits from the photograph.  Have a look at the image below?  Do you notice a difference in photo composition?

The story of the image changes completely.






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