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Why Subjects Should Move a Bit to the Side

When you take a picture, where do you instinctively position your main subject – the center of your image? Smack-dab in the middle, where the central autofocus point or area makes it easiest to get a sharp image; where the subject – whether it’s a person, flower, building, or mountain – receives undivided attention; where nothing will challenge its dominance. You place it where the logical position for your main subject seems to be.

But only at first glance. If you end up with a bull’s eye composition for all of your photos, they will all look the same – predictable, monotonous, and outright boring. After the first look, the viewer will discover the main subject in the obvious position, and won’t have any reason to continue engaging with the photo to discover what else might be there. It’s an image composition devoid of tension, and what’s even more, you’re robbing yourself of all other creative composition possibilities.

So, if you’d like to go beyond that, where do you position your main subject? It’s up to you: Even a modest shift is sufficient to move your subject off-center, but you may also opt for an extreme composition by placing it next to the image border or into one corner. It all depends on the image, your intention, your willingness to experiment, and the circumstances. In most cases, a slight shift of the main subject is enough to provide a more engaging composition, which brings us to a popular design technique: the rule of thirds.


Examining as many different pictures as possible enables you to develop more and more confidence in your ability to evaluate scenes and subjects, which will in turn improve your own photography. Examining the work of other photographers is just as applicable for advanced photographers, by the way; everyone can benefit from outside ideas at any time

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