Be My Guest Monday 12/20/10: Rob Sheppard

It's "Be My Guest Monday," the day of the week that's turned over to a talented guest blogger for a quick tip.

Today's guest: Rob Sheppard

Get the subject out of the middle of the frame.

The craft of photography can be intense – you need to consider lens choice, shutter speed, f-stop, focus point, light and more. The results can be worth the effort, but wouldn’t it be nice if at least once you could do something quickly and easily to get better photos?
You can! There is one quick step you can take to make your photos better and it relates to composition. Get your subject out of the middle of the frame!

I know this is not new advice, yet it is something we all have to pay attention to. It is very easy for subjects to end up in the middle, especially when we are excited about what we are photographing.

So what’s the big deal about subjects in the middle anyway? Does it really make a difference? I could just say that you will not see pros putting subjects in the middle of the composition very often except for a deliberate effect, which is true, but doesn’t tell you much.

There is actually research about images and centered subjects. It turns out that viewers of an image of a centered subject look at that centered subject and not much else in the photograph. Viewers of photographs that have a subject that is out of the center will look at the subject and look at the rest of the photograph. Their eyes will go all over that photograph and they will stay with the image for a far longer time than the centered subject.
That means that when a subject is centered, the viewer will look at the picture and figure that they know it all by seeing the subject in the center, then move on. They don't spend time with your beautiful photograph. They don't find it as interesting.

On the other hand, this means that when a subject is out of the center of the frame, your viewers will enjoy the experience of looking at your photograph more. They will spend more time with the image. They will look all over the photograph.

So if you want a quick, one step way of getting better pictures, simply look at your subject and compose your photograph so the subject is somewhere other than in the middle.

Rob Sheppard

Nature and Photography

Editor-at-large, Outdoor Photographer