Captivating Photographs: Part 2

There’s a beautiful photo opportunity around
every bend in Walla Walla – make the most of it!

The last article about compositions simplified creating captivating images by giving viewers a scene they are not accustomed to in order to draw their attention. Today, we are going to talk specifically about the rule of thirds and the rule of space.

The rule of thirds is one of the first rules of composition beginner photographers learn, and it serves to create a balanced and more visually appealing image. The rule involves mentally dividing your image using two vertical and two horizontal lines and placing the subject of the image at one of the four intersecting points as shown in the image below.

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 A centered composition is a nice image, but it is not as appealing to the eye. This is a rule that works both in vertical and horizontal composition, as well as with portraits, landscape, fine art, and most other forms of photography. 

Below are a few other examples of images using the rule of thirds as a composition element.

The next rule I want to talk about is the rule of space, also known as giving an image “nose room.” This rule simply states that if the subject is facing or moving in a certain direction, then the image should allow space in front of the subject for the subject to look into or move into. This keeps the image from feeling crowded and allows the viewer to also look into that open space. 

The rule of space can be combine with the rule of thirds as illustrated in the image above.

The rule of space can be combine with the rule of thirds as illustrated in the image above.

As mentioned in the previous article about composition, these should not be hard-set rules but rather guidelines – there some images that require that the above two rules to be ignored for the sake of achieving a different objective. Examples include reflection photography or symmetrical images. We’ve all heard that rules are made to be broken, but one must know the rules in order to intentionally and successfully break them. A photographer may chose to break the rule of thirds and the rule of space (rules that are meant to create balance and visual harmony) if the goal is to create a sense of tension or unease in the viewer. These rules are helpful, but not binding, so learn them, use them, and, when appropriate, break them intentionally to suit you artistic goal. 

Victor Attoh is a physical therapist and photographer who lives in the Walla Walla area. Follow him on Instagram at @visual_gemz and at @mobile_gemz.