Are you a rule-follower? I am.
I get anxious even bending the rules – social or actual. So no-one is more surprised than me to see that I have embraced the dreaded center composition in my personal style. I had always understood this to be a big photography no-no so I avoided it at all costs, believing it to be a lazy, unimaginative and visually less pleasing method of composition.
Then, last Christmas, my husband surprised me with a 35mm lens. And the rest, as they say, is history – my love-affair with center composition took off. Apparently some rules are meant to be broken, even by me. The 35mm focal length lends itself so well to a center composition. I love this wider frame view and how it adds context to my shots (and limb-chopping is a thing of the past….almost).
And with this new perspective, here’s the thing that I have come to embrace: composition is merely the technique of framing your subject or point of interest in the shot in such a way that you draw the viewer’s attention to it. Successfully highlighting your subject is possible in many different ways and a center composition is as valid a choice as any.
Here are some ways I’ve found to make a center composition as a key feature of my photographic style:
If you are going to use a center composition, do so with confidence. Be deliberate. Don’t center your shot unless there is a good reason for doing so. Look for clues in the environment such as symmetry or a need to emphasize strong emotion.
Simplify the frame. A busy frame can be visually confusing even when the subject is smack-dab in front and center, so clear out the clutter (either before taking the shot or in post-processing if you forget). Alternatively, consider simplifying the color palette by converting to black and white.
Use leading lines. Perhaps the finest help to a great center composition are converging lines that lead the eye directly to your point of interest. Leading lines create a sense of movement in your frame and can add immense visual impact to the image. Make use of leading lines wherever you can to add drama to your shot
I hope these ideas and examples prove useful to you when you are thinking about mixing things up a little on your next shoot. Don’t be afraid to break the rules every now and then. Shoot center composition images with confidence, my friends!