Using And Breaking The Rules

There are hundreds of guidelines and ‘rules’ for composition in photography. In general, these are intended to create attractive compositions. Depending on your desired intentions, you may want to achieve something else entirely. In addition, relentless applying the Rule of Thirds or The Golden Ratio to every shoot will inhibit your creativity and result in images that look repetitive and uninspiring. Developing your own compositional style will help set you apart from other photographers, so learn these rules but also experiment with (intentionally) breaking them.

A Portrait of Two Halves

When Liv and Hannah turned up in opposite-coloured tops I had to adapt from my usual tendency towards portraits with narrow tonal ranges. Getting f...

Family In A Frame Within A Frame

Frames within the edges of your image are a powerful way to strengthen your composition. Go one step further by stacking multiple frames-within-a-f...

Farmhouse Rule-Of-Thirds Portrait

Sometimes the best portraits start unplanned – in this case, during a shoot break. I saw a patch of light, adjusted the scene to improve the compos...

Placing The MD In The Middle

Positioning your subject in the middle of the frame can appear unimaginative. Here, I’ve made sure it’s a bold choice, by using elements of the env...

Portrait Blocks & Stabilisers

Why you need wider shots to help you sell wall portraits, and how to place elements in your composition so they are either visual blocks or stabili...

Who ‘Nose’ The Rules?

The ‘nose room’ rule & ‘cheekline’ rule are are rules about noses in portraits that you need to know, even if you decide to break them to cre...

Four Ways To Crop A Portrait

To crop, or not to crop? For all portraits other than full-length ones, you have to decide whereabouts on your subject’s body to place the edge o...

Golden Spiral Curve In Portraits

The Golden Spiral is a compositional tool that helps you create more high-impact portraits. Here’s how I used foreground foliage to create the spir...

Telling Stories with Composition

Shooting families with young children? Accompanying everyone on a walk allows you to capture relaxed shots like this one, with everyone being thems...

Composition for book design

When book author Sarah Virág commissioned a set of headshots for her new book, I had no idea how her book designer would use them. In addition, he...