When it comes to creating compelling compositions in your photos, the first step is to take your time and play. As you do this more and more the process of spotting and selecting beautiful compositions that engage your viewer will become increasingly instinctive. It’s particularly helpful to look through your camera at the scene or subject that you plan to capture, while moving around (even using exaggerated movements for dramatic effect). This helps to determine the best angle, depending on your objective for the image, as well as the style and mood that you intend to portray.
Although the classic “Rule of Thirds” was apparently first written down by John Thomas Smith in 1797, the Renaissance painters evidently understood it profoundly. No wonder it is still so often taught in photography courses today, since it taps into the natural manner in which we view and interact with images. In brief, the rule is based on the fact that people will potentially be more engaged by a photo when it “tells a story” or leads your eye in a particular direction, rather than landing your attention statically in the middle, with no inclination to explore the image further.
Above is a sample image, featured again below with the Rule of Thirds guidelines superimposed onto it. The sun as the main focal point lies at the intersection of two lines. For counterbalance, our aerial drone is positioned on the opposite intersection of lines, leading the viewer’s gaze across the photo towards the interesting evening sky. In case you’re wondering, this was taken a few days ago at Ant’s Nest and Ant’s Hill game reserve, where we were on location, shooting a second promo video to showcase the stunning horseback safaris that they offer, in addition to the amazing sunsets 🙂
Once you’re familiar with rules, it can be more creatively fulfilling or simply irresistible to break them, but it helps to be informed by an awareness of what you’re doing. Below is another sample image of the same sunset, shot from an alternative vantage point, using a different focal length and depth of field effect, and also cropped square for optimal viewing on Instagram. This illustrates the value of moving around and playing in order to create a variety of moods and results. The bottom line is to have fun with your camera and consider offering your viewer an invitation to linger a little and explore your images more closely. Happy shooting and feel free to follow us on Instagram at outdoor_video_and_photographic for plenty more examples.