Ogunquit Maine

Composition and Framing

October 30th, 2020

Brennan Kauffman


When taking an image, what’s important? Is the tree in the foreground distracting from the main subject? Or are the people out of focus in the foreground taking away from the city shot? Photography is an art form in which the world is your canvas. Framing is your way to fill it properly without distracting or overwhelming your audience. Many times rules such as the rule of thirds can be broken depending on the type of photo you are taking but usually, the rule falls in to place even if you weren’t intentionally trying to follow it. When taking portraits for instance, you want your subject closer to the center of the image and things to lead to the subject if in a nature style shot or creative style shot. In nature portraits, you would want to include some foliage if possible in your foreground to make the photo have dimension and look natural and immersive.


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Leading lines are when you have a line coming from a portion of the image leading to the subject. In photography you want your viewer to view the entire image, which most of the time starts with the foreground, then to the mid-ground or subject, then the background. Many rules such as the rule of thirds imply that it's better to have your subject in an upper third of the image whether left or right and have things lead to it which falls into place quite frequently in landscape photography. I’ve personally broken this rule in a number of photographs that I felt were strong enough to not need the rule which can be seen in my travel and nature section. In street photography for instance, this isn't as important to follow but you still want to have a strong subject, and a lot of contrast within the image, especially if you plan to convert to black and white or monochrome. Having leading lines such as the image below can create a unique image and still not fully follow the rule of thirds but it still is interesting enough to draw the viewer in.

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One rule in photography that isn't mentioned as much but is very important, is the Golden ratio which is commonly used in a lot of art. It follows the rule of thirds but is more in-depth than the rule of thirds when composing an image. Again these aren't rules that always have to be followed to achieve a powerful image. 


Again art is always subjective and doesn't have to follow any rules if you personally like the artwork. The most important opinion in art is your own, you want to be happy with the art and shouldn't care what others think of it. If you're proud of it you should post it to social media and other platforms. Some people will love street photography and others personally don't same goes for landscape photography. Just enjoy taking photos and experiment.


When in the field taking landscape photos, I usually don't try to cater to a certain type of rule for framing, but I do take different perspectives using different focal lengths to give me the extra photos in post to work with.

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