Center Weighted Composition

Tips & Tricks

January 15, 2021

To center or not center, that is the question?

If you went through your camera roll would most of your pictures have the subject centered or off to the side? Most professionals focus on the rule of thirds positioning, which avoids centering your subject, but let’s chat about when it’s a perfect situation for a center weighted composition.

Center Weighted ImageIt’s all about the story!

As I’m looking through the viewfinder I see a story happening before me. Is the story about the expression of the model or more about the full scene itself?  Is there something happening off camera that only we will know happened? All these little things create that story you see before you. We want portraits to remember that feeling, a special moment, and the things we love.

Here are some questions that go through my mind as I’m deciding my composition:

        1. Are there objects such as trees, roads, or furniture that frame the subject in a certain way? If so, is it helping the story along or is it just distractions?
        2. Am I asking the subject to look camera left/right?
        3. Is the dog distracted because of something? If so, how can I use it to my advantage?
        4. Is my subject focused intently on me? I do have delicious treats and a goofy assistant.
        5. Are there leading lines (a geometric line that draws your eye to the subject)?

This and so many more questions might decide how I compose an image, but let me ask you.  If you could only pick one which of those 5 scenarios do you think would be a great center weighted composition?

If a model is looking left or right I will never center the image, so that pretty much eliminates #2 & #3.

Below are a few situations that show how you may want to center images under the #1 or #5 situation.  While the subject isn’t dead center they are centered between their surroundings.

Understanding center weighted compositionRocky Butte Pug

That leaves situation #4

Now what if my model is focused completely on me (or the treats for that matter), I get a perfect picture of the face, and that is the highlight of the image. Put that center stage for everyone to see.

Pug Face

Now that you’ve seen some images that are better suited for a center weighted composition let’s take a look at an image following more of the rule of 3rds I talked about before.

Macintosh posed perfectly at Cathedral Park with the St Johns Bridge featured behind him. It’s a hot spot for photographers for good reason. The image below will be part of our Tails of Portland Limited Edition Book.  We want to feature the adorable squishy faced boy but also complete the story using the locations found in our beautiful city. The story continues knowing the parents of sweet Mac have ties to this area growing up.

 Note: we still have spots open if you’d like to have your fur baby featured in the book.

Cathedral Park Pug


Do you love looking at adorable animals? Why don’t you follow us on Instagram.  There’s even more fun over there.

Are you a photographer? Go check out Linda’s blog post about using the Lensbaby sweet 50 for dog portraits!

Linda Perdue with VP Shoots Photography creating pet portraits in the Tampa Bay area, Florida.

  1. Kim Hollis says:

    oh my goodness, I love all of your photos and your locations!

  2. Terri says:

    Great examples of center weighted photos!

  3. Welp, Bella and I need a trip to Portland so you can show us some of these AMAZING locations.

  4. WOW!!! These are all amazing!

  5. Darlene says:

    Danyel, these are beautiful!!! I hope the book is coming along well! Stunning locations! I especially love the 2nd to last image with the bridge in the background 🙂

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