Foundations: The Rule of Thirds

The Rule of Thirds provides a guide as to the most impactful place within the frame to place key elements. Imagine two horizontal lines that split the image into thirds, crossed by two vertical, equidistant lines that split the image into thirds the other way. Placing an image component along with one of these lines or – even more powerfully – on one of the four intersections where the lines meet – contributes to a strong composition. … To get …

A Crouch To Suit The Composition

I invited Steve into the studio so I could create some portraits for our book, Mastering Portrait Photography. I was specifically looking to capture portraits that illustrated different angles for photographing guys. Steve turned up wearing jeans and a jacket, so I wanted a pose that worked well with that combination. This crouch is quite striking and masculine while still being relaxed and informal, … To get access, you need to first be a registered member and then head over …

Outdoors Sprint Portrait For A Local Gym

An everyday location, some high power flash and a little bit of luck all came together to create this fitness image. This was taken during a commercial shoot for our local gym, Fitlife. Most of the session took place indoors, but on the way in I noticed this industrial-looking garage door. I mentally filed it as offering an interesting potential location for an outside shot. I started working with Lawrence when my mind went back to the garage door, … …

Lights, Fans and a Seriously Fit Spin Class Instructor

The creative part of a portrait photographer’s job is to look beyond the obvious shot and create something that makes people look twice because it is so striking. In this shot, some creative lighting makes all the difference. Oh, and a whole load of fanning. This was a commercial shoot for Fitlife, our local (boutique) gym. My wife Sarah and I attend a spin class at the gym, … To get access, you need to first be a registered member …

Foundations: Eye Contact

Having the subject look straight down the lens gives a feeling of direct eye contact when the image is later viewed. Just as in real life, eye contact is more arresting than a lack of eye contact – it captures your attention and is a form of communication in itself. However, it also demands more of the viewer, so a whole set of images containing eye contact can become tiring and repetitive. As with all the other elements of composition, …

Foundations: Background Patterns and Textures

Textured backgrounds, or those with repeating elements, can often form ideal patterns to add low-key interest behind a subject. For example, the horizontal lines of a brick wall or the vertical lines of wooden planks on a shed could both make great backgrounds. Horizontal lines tend to suit a landscape format image best while vertical lines are more powerful in a portrait image, as the background lines echo the angle of the longest edge of the image. … To get …

Foundations: Frame Within A Frame

You can use elements of a scene to provide an additional frame within the edges of the image. This could be a full frame, on all four sides of the image, or a partial frame, where only one, two or three sides of the image are affected. Potential framing elements include doorways, foliage, tree trunks or even other people. Frames can either be an obvious element in their own right, or merely blurred parts of the image. … To get …

Foundations: Lead-In Lines

Lead-in lines are strong compositional elements that guide the viewer’s eye around the image, and draw the viewer’s focus towards the subject. For example, in a shot of a subject walking along a winding path, inclusion of the path in the foreground will create a lead-in line. Equally, two rows of converging trees either side of your subject create converging lead-in lines that draw the viewer’s eye to their vanishing point behind the subject. By giving the eye a clear …

Foundations: Leaving Space Around Your Subject

While filling the frame with your subject can lead to a high impact portrait – particularly if the final image will be used at a small scale – using this technique all the time leads to a selection of images that are repetitive. As with many of the rules of composition, when your images are viewed as a set, variety becomes key. Allowing space around your subject also enables you to include background or environmental details. … To get access, …

Foundations: Visual Balance

Every element in a photograph has a ‘visual weight’ attached to it, and a harmonious composition is one in which these elements are arranged in a way that seems to achieve visual balance overall. Elements that are high contrast, large, dark in colour, placed on one of the key sections of the frame according to the Rule of Thirds or Golden Ratio, or that we know are genuinely heavy, … To get access, you need to first be a registered …