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.
It’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:
- 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?
- Am I asking the subject to look camera left/right?
- Is the dog distracted because of something? If so, how can I use it to my advantage?
- Is my subject focused intently on me? I do have delicious treats and a goofy assistant.
- 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.
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.
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.
Do you love looking at adorable animals? Why don’t you follow us on Instagram. There’s even more fun over there.
Linda Perdue with VP Shoots Photography creating pet portraits in the Tampa Bay area, Florida.