Diving Deep | Becoming a Family Historian Lesson 3

I hope you had fun jumping into a little bit of practice with perspectives last week! Today, we’re going to take a more in depth look at some other compositional techniques that will help you create images that you just can’t stop admiring. Let’s jump right in!

Rule of Thirds:

Using the rule of thirds means that you divide your image into thirds both horizontally and vertically, then you place your subject at one of the intersections of those lines. Most cameras, phones included, have the option to turn the grid on so that you can visualize this as you are shooting your image. Here is a look at what this may look like:

Careful with the Crop!

You’ll notice that a LOT of my images don’t include the full body of my subject - this is in the most basic sense considered a “crop” even if it is how you capture the image in camera rather than a change you make after the fact in editing. When you utilize crop in your image, you want to be careful that you don’t crop your subject at a joint (ie. knee, elbow, wrist, etc.). Cropping on the joint can make it seem as though your subject is missing part of a limb. It will take some time to make it a habit to be conscious of this, but just keep at it! Take a look at the two versions of the image below to see how the subtle change really makes a difference.

Leading Lines:

Leading lines refer to the lines created by elements in your photo that lead the viewers eye to the subject. Leading lines can be found just about anywhere and are a really powerful tool. Take a look at the images below for a better idea of how this works!

Also, while we’re on the topic of lines… let’s make a note to make sure that we’re leveling up when we shoot! You can check this by looking at your horizon lines, door frames, or other lines within your frame to make sure you’re keeping them nice and straight. Generally, you want horizons parallel to the bottom of your frame and door frames, trees, etc. perpendicular to the bottom of your frame. Of course, sometimes nature has rolling hills and wonky trees, but I think you get me.

I'll show you what I mean:

Negative Space:

Negative space is a wonderful tool to use to lessen distraction and bring focus to your subject. Having large spans of empty space can really draw the viewer in. You can accomplish negative space with an empty wall, wide open sky, the floor (when shooting from above), and various other “empty” backdrops when you’re capturing your image. Below is an example of an image where I took a minimalistic approach using negative space.


Symmetry in photography is achieved when two halves of an image hold the same weight. You can use strict symmetry where both halves are an exact mirror of each other - this can be very appealing when photographing architecture for example. Or, most common when photographing people, you can have parts of your image that are symmetrical and allow other parts to break the symmetry. When an image seems balanced symmetrically and then that symmetry is broken, it will draw the viewers eye to the place of the break. Below are two examples of images with symmetry - one is more strict than the other, but both have balance.

Rule of Space:

The rule of space in photography is simply the act of adding visual space in front of the direction that the subject is moving, thus implying motion and direction while leading the eye of the viewer. Simple terms, if you’re photographing your kids running through the yard, leave more space ahead of them than behind them.

Challenge: Take a few images this week and see how many different techniques you can mark off the list!

Be sure to tag me on facebook or instagram when you share your images! I'd love to follow along with you!

Previous Lessons:

Lesson 1: Game Plan

Lesson 2: Approach + Perspective

Looking for some feedback on your image? I'd love to help! Shoot me an email.