successful center compositions

  • breaking-the-rules-of-photography-by-Adele-Humphries

successful center compositions

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.

how to successfully center compose a photograph by Adele Humphries

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.

breaking the rule of thirds by Adele Humphries

center compositions and how to do them by Adele Humphries

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

are center compositions bad in photography by Adele Humphries

do i have to follow the rule of thirds by Adele Humphries

how can a center composition work in photography by Adele Humphries

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!

About the Author:

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. Visit Adele Humphries online.


  1. Lacey B. Feb 15 2013 at 11:13 am - Reply

    Love this Adele!

  2. Beckie Lehlbach Feb 15 2013 at 11:13 am - Reply

    Wonderful tips Adele! thanks so much for sharing <3

  3. Rachel Nielsen Feb 15 2013 at 11:24 am - Reply

    These are great tips Adele!

  4. Alex Rickard Feb 15 2013 at 11:25 am - Reply

    Beautiful, thank you! x

  5. Kim Feb 15 2013 at 11:27 am - Reply

    Love this Adele!! Great tips 🙂

  6. Jennifer Feb 15 2013 at 11:27 am - Reply

    Love it!

  7. Jessica Sudusky Feb 15 2013 at 11:33 am - Reply

    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. Megan Dill Feb 15 2013 at 11:43 am - Reply

    Lovely article and photographs, Adele!

  9. Melissa Feb 15 2013 at 11:47 am - Reply

    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. 😀

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

    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 - Reply

    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. Carolyn Feb 15 2013 at 11:51 am - Reply

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

  13. kara_jb Feb 15 2013 at 11:52 am - Reply

    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 - Reply

    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. Lisa (Tout Petit Pixel) Feb 15 2013 at 12:05 pm - Reply

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

  16. Lisa Benemelis Feb 15 2013 at 12:07 pm - Reply

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

  17. jane button Feb 15 2013 at 12:12 pm - Reply

    great images and great tips! thanks, adele!

  18. Cassandra Feb 15 2013 at 12:31 pm - Reply

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

  19. Emma Wood Feb 15 2013 at 12:34 pm - Reply

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

  20. Adeena Feb 15 2013 at 12:45 pm - Reply

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

  21. Sarah Vaughn Feb 15 2013 at 12:45 pm - Reply

    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

  22. Jennifer Feb 15 2013 at 1:03 pm - Reply

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

  23. jessican Feb 15 2013 at 2:22 pm - Reply

    Great article! Love these shots too.

  24. jan b Feb 15 2013 at 3:16 pm - Reply

    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.

  25. Jeanie Feb 15 2013 at 4:58 pm - Reply

    Great tips and beautiful shots.

  26. marsha Feb 15 2013 at 5:38 pm - Reply

    Love this!

  27. Anne Feb 15 2013 at 5:52 pm - Reply

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

  28. mommaceleste (Celeste Pav) Feb 15 2013 at 6:02 pm - Reply

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

  29. Beth Simpkins Feb 15 2013 at 6:38 pm - Reply

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

  30. Adele Humphries Feb 15 2013 at 7:50 pm - Reply

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

  31. Christina Feb 15 2013 at 11:08 pm - Reply

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

  32. Andrea Feb 16 2013 at 7:59 am - Reply

    Great tutorial Adele! Thank you!

  33. Bethany Giannini Feb 16 2013 at 1:51 pm - Reply

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

  34. Mara Feb 16 2013 at 9:02 pm - Reply

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

  35. Carla Bagley Feb 16 2013 at 9:21 pm - Reply

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

  36. Meredith Feb 16 2013 at 11:35 pm - Reply

    This is great, Adele! <3

  37. Dana Foley Feb 17 2013 at 6:55 pm - Reply

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

  38. Kate @ Songs Kate Sang Feb 17 2013 at 10:44 pm - Reply

    Love this! Thank you for the inspiration!

  39. Melissa Stottmann Feb 18 2013 at 12:41 am - Reply

    Great words to think on, Adele!!

  40. Jessica R Feb 18 2013 at 11:54 am - Reply

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

  41. Leah Cook Feb 18 2013 at 1:48 pm - Reply

    fantastic advice, Adele!! beautiful shots too!

  42. Sally Z Feb 19 2013 at 2:45 am - Reply

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

  43. Kathie Hall Feb 20 2013 at 9:18 am - Reply

    I LOVE Scotland!!!! And everything about this pic! Awesome work! 🙂

  44. Julie Feb 20 2013 at 10:29 am - Reply

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

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