Never Center Your Subject ?

The art of composition is full of rules; one of them being, “Don’t ‘bullseye’ your subject in the center of the frame”.  Overly centered compositions are generally considered static and boring — the “Rule of Thirds” which we all learn early on, is a way to break the static nature of centered compositions.  But, there are times when centering the subject is appropriate and will result in a stronger image.

A centered composition can help to emphasize symmetry, the classic example of which is a forest of fall colours reflected in a mirror-still lake — placing the horizon line of the far shoreline, dividing the top and bottom halves of the image (forest vs. reflection) equally.

Symmetry can be expressed through centering in either the horizontal or the vertical axes of an image.  By centering the subject in the image below, symmetry is implied in the right and left halves of the image below.

The dominance of a singular subject is emphasized when centered in the frame.  This works well when you want to hold the viewer’s eye on your subject, particularly when there are no other items in the frame that add to  your visual story

Women’s hands holding tomatoes

The subject dominance created by a centered framing choice often works very well in portraits.  This very direct framing choice helps create a sense of connection between the subject and the viewer.

Elements of a circular or radial nature have a natural symmetry of their own, as in the detail of the flower below, and will often work best with a centered approach to framing the image.

A centered subject, even when a small part of the overall composition, can still dominate and also create a sense of scale between the subject and the surrounding environment.  If you want to convey a sense of isolation or emphasize the insignificance of the subject relative to their environment, a central position within the frame will often express this idea well.

A centered position within the frame creates a sense of balance owing to the symmetry of the composition.  When lines are present that share that symmetry, a centered framing choice becomes even more compelling

Although I prefer to think of it as the “Guideline of Thirds”, rules like the “Rule of Thirds”, have become rules because they generally result in stronger compositions.  But in Art, as in life, rules are sometimes best ignored.  Think about employing the power of a centered composition when next you want to emphasize your subject’s symmetry, dominance or isolation.

-BPSOP Instructor – Mark English

Mark Teaches:

Close-Up Photography

After the Click: Refining Your Vision in Lightroom & Camera Raw

The Art of Printing & Selling Your Art

“I just wanted to thank you for another wonderful class. I have to confess that each week when I read the new assignment, my first reaction was mild panic and a deep certainty that I would not be able to produce anything worthwhile that fit within the parameters you had set. But before I knew it, the ideas started to flow, and I quickly became obsessed (no, that isn’t too strong a word!) with exploring the possibilities. I can honestly say that the photos I produced in response to your assignments are among my favorites. Thanks for bringing out a creative side I didn’t know I had!”

Barbara Geiger
Understanding Color

“Thank you so very much for this course! It’s allowed me to take the blinders off and present my images for what I want them to be without being a slave to the “reality” of the camera. I would also add that in conjunction with your printing course, this has been the most useful course I’ve ever taken. Your notes are more than comprehensive and your comments and critiques are direct, clear, and always directed to the improvement of the art.”

After the click

” I want to thank you for this class and for your patience and availability to answer all of my questions. I have learned very much through this class. I have used LR in the past, but mostly for editing images. I now have a better grasp in the organization of my images, an even better understanding of editing images, and an understanding of the value of presets. I still have a lot to learn, but this has put me on the road to be able to improve my photography. Again, thank you! ”

Dale Yates
Lightroom Quickstart

Classes Starting Soon!

Understanding Exposure and Your DSLR

Instructor: Bryan Peterson Duration: 6 Weeks Cost: US$169 Without que…

Wireless Flash Techniques for Outdoor & Nature Photographers

Instructor: Rick Burress Duration: 4 Weeks Cost: US$129 Learn Photoshop…

The Real Photoshop Course

Instructor: Charlie Borland Duration: 4 Weeks Cost: US$129 Are you a …

The Ultimate Guide to Adobe Bridge CC

Instructor: Rick Burress Duration: 4 Weeks Cost: US$129 The Anti-Catalo…

After the Click – Refining Your Vision in Lightroom & Camera Raw

Instructor: Mark English Duration: 4 Weeks Cost: US$129 Why do some ima…

Editing in Adobe Camera Raw

Instructor: Rick Burress Duration: 4 Weeks Cost: US$129 If you love pho…

Exploring Adobe Photoshop Lightroom & Lightroom for Mobile

Instructor: Holly Higbee-Jansen Duration: 4 Weeks Cost: US$129 In this …

Lightroom Quick Start

Instructor: Holly Higbee-Jansen Duration: 4 Weeks Cost: US$129 Do you w…

Mastering Apple Photos

Instructor: Jon Canfield Duration: 4 Weeks Cost: US$129 Mastering Apple…

Luminar Essentials

Instructor: Jon Canfield Duration: 4 Weeks Cost: US$129 Luminar is an …

The Art of Printing and Selling Your Art

Instructor: Mark English Duration: 2 Weeks Cost: US$76 The print is the…

The 50 Most Useful Tips in Photoshop CC and Photoshop Elements

Instructor: Roger Morin Duration: 2 Weeks Cost: US$76 This two-week cla…

50 MORE Photoshop Tips & Tricks

Instructor: Roger Morin Duration: 2 Weeks Cost: US$76 This two-week cla…
Translate »