The idea of Centering is one of the simplest of all the photography “rules.” The reason for this is because centering essentially means that your subject should be the center of your photo just as a bull’s-eye is the center of a target. However, while centering is one of the simplest photography rules, it is not always the easiest.
Let’s Get Started
Think of the center of a target. Why is your eye drawn to the middle of that bull’s-eye? Is it just because the bull’s-eye is in the center of a target or is it something more?
For me, the bull’s-eye of a target draws my eye to it for several reasons:
1) The bull’s-eye is the center of the target.
2) The bull’s-eye is framed by the concentric circles surrounding it.
3) The bull’s-eye is usually colored somewhat differently than the surrounding elements.
4) The bull’s-eye is a single, solitary, unique object compared to the many rings around it.
Just like the center of a target, a photograph’s centered subject will prove most visually interesting to a viewer if it includes some combination of the reasons I mentioned above. A centered object with framing or flanking around it is often more interesting and dynamic than a centered subject with nothing surrounding it. The same can be said of a centered subject with unusual color or lines leading the viewer’s eye to it.
Let’s Break It Down
For examples of Centering see the following links:
“Hope Blooms in the Desert”
The bee is centered in the photograph and framed by the petals of the prickly pear cactus flower to give him extra interest.
The blue agave is centered among dying yellow yucca plants on a rocky mountainside, proof of its stubborn resilience in a drought-stricken environment.
“The Lord God Loves Them All”
The brightly-colored butterfly is centered in the photograph as it perches on two hands, a symbol of friendship and harmony.
A single pink water lily floats gently on the surface of a pond as its underwater stem leads the viewer’s eye straight to it.
A swirl of sand surrounds this central seed hull.
A center shaft of sparkling light pierces the gloom of black glass in this photo.
Variations of color and shadow add interest to this centered thistle.
Shoot at least 10 images with centered subjects. Try to find subjects that are interesting because of their uniqueness, shape, or color and add even more interest to these subjects by centering them in the photograph. Some good items to try shooting are: flowers, insects, and small objects.
I suggest reviewing my posts about “Leading Lines” and “Framing/Flanking” to see how these two photography rules often work in conjunction with the rule of Centering.
Until we meet again, I wish all of you brilliant flashes of perspective!
[ O*] Alycia