Breaking the rule-of-the-thirds

While the rule-of-thirds and other compositional aids can create interesting images, breaking them can often produce more eye-catching photographs.

Placing the horizon across the centre of the frame or the main subject in the middle of it are classic rule-breakers that can work well, but that’s all a bit mild – if you’re going to break a rule you might as well do it with style!

Play with unusual camera angles. Tilt your camera so everything appears to be on a slant and sliding out of the picture. Jaunty angles can transform portraits and fashion shots, but they alsowork on close-ups, sport and action, architecture and most subjects. Another idea is to place important subject matter far away from the centre of the frame. When shooting portraits we tend to put people in the centre of a photo, but try moving your subject to the edge to see how it changes the dynamics of the composition.

Empty space is normally to be avoided, but it can be interesting and intriguing, especially if the main subject occupies only a small part of the frame, or is composed so that it breaks in from one side but the central area is empty.

Breaking the rule-of-the-thirds

The juxtaposition of elements in a scene can dictate the visual success of a photograph more than the actual subject matter. Experiment with objects or shapes to see how altering their arrangement transforms the look and feel. Try this: take a banana and an apple, place them on a white background and see how many different compositions you can come up with. For example, an apple sits nicely in the curve of a banana to achieve harmony. But if you place the apple against the curve of the banana, you create conflict.