successful center compositions

By Adele Humphries

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.

successful center compositions photo

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.

successful center compositions photo

successful center compositions photo

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

successful center compositions photo

successful center compositions photo

successful center compositions photo

successful center compositions photo

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!

successful center compositions photoAdele Humphries, Texas
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Adele Humphries is a lifestyle hobbyist photographer living in Texas with her husband and 2 kids. Originally from Scotland, Adele has loved spending the last 5 years making a home for her family State-side and documenting their adventures for folks back in Scotland.  Adele loves her 35L, red wine (though not the ensuing hangover), travelling (and the new people she meets as a result) and food of any kind cooked by someone else.


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49 Responses to “successful center compositions”

  1. Feb 15 2013 at 11:13 am #

    Love this Adele!

  2. Feb 15 2013 at 11:13 am #

    Wonderful tips Adele! thanks so much for sharing <3

  3. Feb 15 2013 at 11:24 am #

    These are great tips Adele!

  4. Feb 15 2013 at 11:25 am #

    Beautiful, thank you! x

  5. Feb 15 2013 at 11:27 am #

    Love this Adele!! Great tips :)

  6. Feb 15 2013 at 11:27 am #

    Love it!

  7. Feb 15 2013 at 11:33 am #

    Adele!! So excited to see you write this blog post for CM – whoo hoo!! I love your work and your weekly personal blog posts….been so much fun to see all your amazing growth over the past 18 months…you are simply fabulous.

  8. Feb 15 2013 at 11:43 am #

    Lovely article and photographs, Adele!

  9. Feb 15 2013 at 11:47 am #

    Wonderful, wonderful post, Adele!! I just adore your work and it’s so nice to see you featured here! I think the basketball court shot is one of my favorites from you. Lovely advice, as well. :D

  10. Dawn Shiree
    Feb 15 2013 at 11:47 am #

    Adele, thank you so much for this! I secretly love center composition too once in awhile… now I don’t feel so bad about it… lol. Really, I appreciated this very much.

  11. Donni
    Feb 15 2013 at 11:49 am #

    How did I get so lucky that our paths crossed and I know you now?! You are so interesting! By the way, I LOVE the shot of Conall in his kilt. Everything about it is perfection.

  12. Feb 15 2013 at 11:51 am #

    I’m a center comp addict!! Thank you!

  13. kara_jb
    Feb 15 2013 at 11:52 am #

    i’ve found myself using the center composition pretty frequently in the past few months and i tend to love it. great tips and i adore the photographs in this tutorial.

  14. Michelle devries
    Feb 15 2013 at 11:57 am #

    Love this! I think I remember mentioning in Finding my style how you do this so well, I’m excited to use some of your tips!

  15. Feb 15 2013 at 12:05 pm #

    Beautiful examples! I love to use center comps once in a while, too :) Great tips!

  16. Feb 15 2013 at 12:07 pm #

    Wonderful article, Adele! I loved all your tips and the beautiful images. <3

  17. Feb 15 2013 at 12:12 pm #

    great images and great tips! thanks, adele!

  18. Feb 15 2013 at 12:16 pm #

    So true, Adele. I think that last one is still of my favorites of yours. <3

  19. Feb 15 2013 at 12:19 pm #

    So inspirational! I am still very new so currently “afraid” of the center comp. Now you have given me lots of ideas and the push to go for it! Now I just need that 35 mm lens……:)

  20. Feb 15 2013 at 12:31 pm #

    Great article!! I am a huge fan of centering my subjects!! I think it’s great fun! Love all your images here! Fabulous! Thanks!!!

  21. Emma Wood
    Feb 15 2013 at 12:34 pm #

    Adele, these are fantastic, you make me want to only centre crop from now on, lol. Such beautiful images too <3

  22. Feb 15 2013 at 12:45 pm #

    Great tips, Adele! Maybe I’ll break the rules for a change. ;)

  23. Feb 15 2013 at 12:45 pm #

    I’m such a fan of your compositions and work. I love to read your thoughts on it – you are the queen of leading lines and framing. <3

  24. Feb 15 2013 at 1:03 pm #

    I LOVE a good center photo! But, I guess I am kinda a rule-breaker ;)

  25. Feb 15 2013 at 1:55 pm #

    I am new in the process but I understand the rule of thirds. The pictures along with you writing helps me understand when it’s o.k. To break a rule. Thank you for your suggestions and samples.

  26. Feb 15 2013 at 2:22 pm #

    Great article! Love these shots too.

  27. Feb 15 2013 at 3:16 pm #

    Thank you for this. I tend to center too many photographs, then feel very guilty for doing so. This will help me center more purposefully.

  28. Jeanie
    Feb 15 2013 at 4:58 pm #

    Great tips and beautiful shots.

  29. marsha
    Feb 15 2013 at 5:38 pm #

    Love this!

  30. Feb 15 2013 at 5:52 pm #

    I’ve always loved your centered compositions! Thank you for this inspiring post, Adele!

  31. Feb 15 2013 at 6:02 pm #

    These are fabulous examples of how using centered compositions enhance your shot! Thanks for sharing Adele! I adore your work so much!!! <3

  32. Beth Simpkins
    Feb 15 2013 at 6:38 pm #

    Thanks Adele for all of the great tips! I always enjoy seeing your work too!

  33. Adele Humphries
    Feb 15 2013 at 7:50 pm #

    Thank you so much everyone. I really appreciate your comments. x

  34. Feb 15 2013 at 11:08 pm #

    Fab article and beautiful images as always, Adele! I too gravitate towards center comps with my 28 :)

  35. Feb 16 2013 at 7:59 am #

    Great tutorial Adele! Thank you!

  36. Feb 16 2013 at 1:51 pm #

    Great article and point. Your images are lovely, especially that last one! Love!

  37. Mara
    Feb 16 2013 at 9:02 pm #

    Love this Adele and your images are gorgeous! I love center compositions too :)

  38. Feb 16 2013 at 9:21 pm #

    I love this! And it comepletely makes sense now:)

  39. Feb 16 2013 at 11:35 pm #

    This is great, Adele! <3

  40. Dana Foley
    Feb 17 2013 at 6:55 pm #

    oooh, Adele, I loved this! THank you for helping me break the rules :)

  41. Feb 17 2013 at 10:44 pm #

    Love this! Thank you for the inspiration!

  42. Feb 18 2013 at 12:41 am #

    Great words to think on, Adele!!

  43. Feb 18 2013 at 11:54 am #

    Great article Adele! From one center-comp lover to another ;) Seriously, I think these are all shining examples of where it works!

  44. Feb 18 2013 at 1:48 pm #

    fantastic advice, Adele!! beautiful shots too!

  45. Feb 19 2013 at 2:45 am #

    This was so nice to read. I am actually a huge fan of centre compositions :)

  46. Kathie Hall
    Feb 20 2013 at 9:18 am #

    I LOVE Scotland!!!! And everything about this pic! Awesome work! :)

  47. Feb 20 2013 at 10:29 am #

    Love this- and I have been eyeing the 35mm. More reason to get it now :)


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