Note: This post is a little something different than the usual what-are-Max-and-Elly-up-to posts. I’ve been wanting to expand my blogging focus and try to add a little value to what you read here.
Something I am often complimented on and asked questions about is my photography, especially related to photos of Max and Elly (see, this post isn’t totally void of references to them). I’ve loved photography for a long time, studied it in college and even used my skills consistently in my communications career. It’s something I still enjoy and find fun and challenging in documenting life here in Tanzania.
So today I wanted to share one of my most-relied-upon photography fundamentals that helps me get great photos. This is something you can apply to the photos you take whether you’re using a DSLR, point-and-shoot or even your phone camera because it’s about how you compose your image, not the equipment you use to capture it.
It’s called the “Rule of Thirds,” and it adds a great deal of visual interest to an image that otherwise might seem a bit ho-hum. Here’s how it works:
When composing your shot, imagine a grid dividing your shot into three equal sections horizontally and three equal sections vertically. Then place your subject along one of those grid lines, depending on your subject. So if photographing a person you might align him or her along one of the vertical grid lines, but if photographing a landscape you’d align the horizon with one of the horizontal grid lines.
Where those grid lines intersect are called “crash points.” When photographing an individual person, I like to place their eyes close to or at one of the crash points of the grid. For instance, here’s how the title photo for this post follows the Rule of Thirds:
First, Max is lined up along the left vertical grid line. And you can see how Max’s eye falls right at the top left crash point. That does put him a little off-center which might go against your natural inclination when composing a shot, thinking that your subject should always be square in the middle. But actually, the slightly off-center nature of the composition adds a lot more visual interest.
Compare these two versions of the same image to see what I mean. The first image has Max smack-dab in the middle:
It’s an okay photo and Max is no-less-adorable, but look how much better it is when the Rule of Thirds is applied, lining Max up with the right vertical grid line:
See what I mean? Just that simple adjustment to the composition improves this image considerably.
Not to leave Elly out of this post, here’s another example. First Max and Elly are positioned in the center of the photo:
It’s a nice shot, but here it is again only better:
In applying the Rule of Thirds this time, I opted to balance Max and Elly on either side of the right vertical grid line since they are both the primary focus of the image.
It’s amazing what one simple adjustment to a photo’s composition can do to improve it. No matter what type of camera I’m using to take a photo I always try to implement the Rule of Thirds to get the best shot possible.
While I feel like my photography has improved a lot since Max and Elly were born and I take pictures of them nearly every day, I know I still have lots to learn. So I’ve signed up for the Shultz Photo School, an online photo course designed specifically for parents, grandparents and others who want to take great photos of the special kids in their lives. I’ve been a big fan of Kyle Shultz’s photography blog (his kids are almost as cute as Max and Elly) for a long time and appreciate his personable teaching style. He’s a professional photographer but teaches in a way that even a novice photographer can feel confident when applying the lessons he teaches.
Kyle even includes lessons in how to file and manage all the photos you’ve taken, and with 20,000 photos and counting already stored on my laptop, I’m anxious to see what he has to say about that!
Shultz Photo School enrollment is open for just a few more days and then won’t be available again until later this year. If you’d like to learn along with me, click here for a special coupon code to get 41% off the lifetime membership price, but be sure to sign up by May 1. Membership is lifetime so we’ll have full access to any future enhancements to the course! Join me and let’s learn together!
(By the way, this is an affiliate link so it’s a win-win situation for both of us. If you sign up for the course using the links in this post, you’ll get the course at 41% off and I’ll earn a small commission that will help me offset the cost of the course for me.)