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Tips & Tricks

Two New Rules Of Composition For More Captivating Images

By Hanssie on May 24th 2016

Photographers will be the first to tell you that composition rules were made to be broken. Nevertheless, the rules are there and have been there throughout history across all visual mediums. Whether you choose to use them, bend them or break them, the classic rules of composition – the rule of thirds, symmetry, balance, tight cropping, etc. – are there, and they can make your images look technically perfect.

But if you want to create some more visually captivating images, consider using some new composition rules, as photographer James Allen Stewart  of ImaginPortraits has done. In the video below, he shares with us how he breaks the traditional composition rules with these two techniques.

1. Balance Between Light and Dark

Darkness in an image can be “heavier” and more dense, causing the eye to draw toward the dark element. Too much dark in one area of the image may cause the image to feel like it’s weighing down that section of the picture. To correct this, Stewart suggests adding light on the other side to balance out the image “so your eyes can relax” and know where to focus.

The image below follows the rule of thirds, but the darkness is too heavy making the subject seem to tilt forward.


But when you add more light to balance it out, it is much more comfortable to the viewer’s eyes, as seen below.


2. Direction/The Story

Like most parts of the world, we read from left to right and Stewart ascertains that we also look at an image from left to right. Therefore, we should compose our images like a story with a “soft start, a climax, and a fade out or open ending.”

If we are reading the image below from left to right, the model’s face -or the climax of the story – is too close to the left side, but a simple flip of the image makes the image more pleasing as there is a more clear beginning, middle and end to the image.



As with any composition rule, learn them to provide a foundation for your photography and then feel free to let inspiration guide you.


What do you think? Are you going to give these two new rules a try? Comment below.

[Via No Film School]

Terms: #Composition

Hanssie is a Southern California-based writer and sometimes portrait and wedding photographer. In her free time, she homeschools, works out, rescues dogs and works in marketing for SLR Lounge. She also blogs about her adventures and about fitness when she’s not sick of writing so much. Check out her work and her blog at Follow her on Instagram

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