Seagull at Sunset 2
Surfer at Sunrise

by Kerry Drager

When a person, animal, or vehicle is pictured fairly small in the frame, make sure the subject moves into - not out of - the composition. This keeps the viewer’s attention directed to the main center area, rather than having the eye wander distractedly to the edge of the frame and out of the picture.

Of course, as with any rule, there can be artfully stylish exceptions, and when a subject occupies a big part of the frame, this guideline may not even apply. But, in general, when a subject moves or faces in one direction, leave room to breathe in front of that subject. Viewers will find this visually pleasing, as opposed to a more unsettling placement of a subject near a picture border and facing toward that close edge of the image.

Your subject doesn’t even need to be moving. Plus, this concept applies not only to human subjects but also to animals, cars, boats, statues, etc. Other objects may have a front that “points” in a particular direction, such as a sunflower. Likewise, a tree or a flower that leans, for instance, should tilt toward the middle of the frame.

Yes, this strategy seems to be yet another thing to worry about with composition in photography. But, trust me, you'll soon get the hang of this concept of directing the movement toward the center of your image.

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