Why should placing subject Off-Center to improve composition

Subject placement off-center for better composition

Avoid centering your subject within the frame for more interesting pictures. One of the most common mistakes beginning photographers make is placing the subject right in the middle of the frame. This causes the viewer’s eye to go right to that spot, then have nothing else to do, which can result in a loss of interest in your photo.

Partly, this is because the autofocus mechanisms in digital cameras focus on whatever is in the center of the frame, so the photographer might feel obligated to accept this particular placement of the subject. “Dead center is deadly!” A mentor once told me that and I still hear it in my head every time I look through the viewfinder.

As human beings, we tend to respond positively to a photograph that has its elements in balance. In part, it’s how we were evolved to perceive beauty. In photography, achieving this balance is known as composition. A great way to make your photograph more interesting to move your subject away from the center of the frame. Where should you place it?

Think of your frame as a tic-tac-toe grid and place your subject in one of the intersections of lines.  This is known as the “Rule Of Thirds”, a major principle of design going back to the days of the Greeks. Images with their subjects placed in these spots are more pleasing to the eye and generate more interest. You can find examples of this principle in architecture, fine art, and nature itself.

Of course, as with all principles of design, this is merely a guideline. There are situations where you may want your subject centered, such as when you’re shooting a product for a catalog. In those instances, you want all the attention to be focused on the subject and nothing else. In general, though, using this guideline as a rule of thumb can make your photographs very compelling.

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