Life Through a Lens

Rules of Composition

There is more than meets the eye when taking a photograph. Many photographers have a natural flair for taking pictures while others need some guidance. A couple of compositional tips can help aspiring photographers open up many creative doors.

Rule of Thirds

The rule of thirds is based on the fact that the human eye is drawn to a quandrant of a photograph other than the center. When taking a picture, think about the different positions of your subject and see how it changes as you move your camera to get different angles. What helps is to think of your view-finder as a grid composed of nine equal squares. Then, off-center your subject accordingly.


Lines are very important in photography. They can become part of the focus of the photograph or they can be very distracting. Carefully consider the way lines are set up before you snap the shutter. Leading lines can create a sense of depth to a photograph, which is usually appealing to the eye. They lead a viewer's eye into the subject. Think about horizontal lines, vertical lines and even horizontal lines that are naturally created by your subject. Sometimes you have to move around to get the perfect ones.

Rule of Thirds

This photograph uses the rule of thirds and lines by placing the subject in the far right quadrant of the image. Diagonal lines bring the viewer's eye directly into the subject.


Focus on the subject. Be conscious of objects in the background that can potentially clutter your image.

Surf Station

This image uses a texturized sky as a clean background for the subject.


Colors are what brings your photograph to life (unless it is black and white, of course). Colors can compliment each other or make one messy image. There are many theories to color harmony.


This image uses color to divide the subjects and give it a unique effect.