In the world of photography there are millions of different things to think about when shooting any subject. There is the consideration of the tools for the job and their endless settings that will be tweaked, the lighting conditions, locations to capture the scene, and more than I’ll probably ever think to list need to happen before the bytes begin to transfer onto the memory card (assuming we are all shooting digital now). These are all very important but just as important as all of that is the way our photographs are composed.

Quite a while back I heard someone talking about the difference between a photograph and taking snap shots; How photographs are carefully thought out works of art, while snap shots are casual, without all of that methodic thought a photograph requires. All of the preparation and detail to how an image is captured shows a great deal of professionalism and always produces greater results than when you head out the door without a plan, clicking away in fully automatic mode.

Take the time when it’s available to place items in an organized manner, move the model’s hair into place, or find an interesting angle that gives a new perspective. There are many ways to improve the quality of a photograph by just thinking of it as an art. Before photography, when portraits  and landscapes were painted those skilled artists went by the principles of design remembering unity, balance, emphasis, contrast and everything else that goes with creating good visual pieces. They would not paint something with distracting poles in the subjects way or people’s limbs randomly cut off at the edges, so when composing a photograph it’s best if issues like those can be avoided. And when a perfect picture is burdened with a distracting element, photoshop is more than happy to help rectify the problem.

Since nearly all of the traditional art’s design concepts can translate to photography is stands to reason that two rules of composition are very popular in the photography world. These two rules are “The Rule of Thirds” and “The Golden Section Rule”. The rules work by dividing the frame into sections from verticle and horizontal lines. Where these lines intersect is where the subject should be photographed. Using these rules usually are a sure fire way to take interesting photos, much better than everything being focused at the center of the picture.

The Rule of Thirds describes itself well, because it works by dividing the frame into thirds vertically and horizontally to create the intersection points. These points are further towards the edges than with the Golden Section Rule, so I find that this layout can assist in creating movement in the composition. The Golden Section Rule is much more complex. It is much like the Rule of Thirds with how there are four lines dividing the image into nine sections with the intersection as the places geniuses throughout the ages have realised are where we humans naturally find visually comforting. This rule makes the intersections like the Rule of Thirds but they are closer to the center of the picture. Here’s a link to wikipedia’s page about the Golden Section Rule if you’d like to tackle understanding how exactly it works: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Golden_ratio.

In this digital age where film has nearly become a thing of the past it is easy to take tons of photographs and hope for some good ones, but just even a few minutes of looking at the subject’s position and layout as well as remembering the artistic details and rules will help transform snap shots into aimed well composed photographs that will impress everyone.

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