The Light Chaser: Rules of composition, part 1.

March 29, 2015
Rule of thirds

Rule of thirds

The Light Chaser is brought to you by, a professional photographic lab offering services to the consumer market., the official photographic lab of Media Group 31 (our parent company) and Alway Photography.

The Light Chaser. A blog by Rob Alway.

Chapter 10: The Rules of Composition

The title sounds rather stern, doesn’t it? There really aren’t any “rules” in photography. However, there are certainly standards or guidelines of composition that have been established over the years.



Many of these rules predate photography and are based on styles created by the great painters.

myprolab_021715Generally, the first question you want to ask yourself when you compose an image is “what is my subject? What do I want my viewer to look at when he/she sees the photograph?”

Good composition will answer that question without making the viewer work very hard. Good composition will lead the viewer right to the subject. There are five “rules” and one “anti-rule” that are generally accepted in the photography world. Here are two of them:

Rule of Thirds: Imagine your photograph divided into a grid containing nine squares. Now look at the center three squares and ignore them! Compose your subject to a side third of the image. In the case of a horizon, try to keep your horizon above or below the center line of the image.

Simplicity (Twice as Close): One of the most effective ways to draw your viewer’s eye to the subject is by simplifying the photograph. After you have composed, try to move in twice as close. Then, do it again. Get rid of distracting items in the background and go for high impact.

More tips of Rules of Composition next week.

Rob Alway is editor-in-chief of Media Group 31, LLC, owner of Mason County Press, Manistee County Press and Oceana County Press. He is also a professional photographer with over 25 years of career experience and an adjunct instructor of photography at West Shore Community College. He and his wife, Becky, own Alway Photography,


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