Quick Tip: Don’t be a Sniper

I wanted to include a different type of post for a few weeks now.. one that explains a simple and quick tip.  Understanding Shutter Speeds and F-stops is great and all – and will improve your photography, but if someone says “Hey, how do I take a better picture of my kid” – that’s not the conversation we’re having.

So to kick it off, my tip is to experiment with where you place the subject in your photos.  Specifically, don’t put them in middle.  This takes practice – since after all, you are taking a picture of the subject!  But if you take a quick moment and recompose the shot – you’ll find that the images are often more compelling.  For reasons that are beyond my understanding of the human brain, when subjects are dead center (sniper shot) they are often interpreted as less interesting.  Take the exact same subject and push it to the edge or corner of the frame, and suddenly the brain attempts to “figure it out”.  There are some actual guidelines for this, but I’m purposely skipping them so you can experiment without preconceived “rules” cluttering your process.

Here is a picture of a simple row boat.  Dead Center in the frame, not very compelling.  It’s a picture of a boat – next.  But the same boat, framed instead off center, is one of my most popular images on Flickr.  I don’t know why, but it’s just more interesting to look at.

When the subject is another person, shooting off center can be even more compelling.  It also allow you to bring in some background to help tell the story.

So this weekend, grab your camera, fight the tunnel vision, and start to take some off-center shots.  Experiment, see what works, see what doesn’t.  Feel free to post questions or links to your results.

Remember, you’re not hunting – you’re creating an image!


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