Two professional photographers offer advice on how to expand your sense of style
By David Willis
Try Different Compositions The rule of thirds is a good guideline to help your photo design. It separates the picture’s frame into a grid, with two evenly spaced horizontal and vertical lines dividing the image into thirds. Then, when placing the subject at the intersections of these lines, the picture becomes more visually pleasing because the subject isn’t centered or symmetrical. But even this tried-and-true method isn’t always the best choice for a composition.
"For a person who’s just learning to make pictures, it’s fine to work with the rule of thirds, but don’t stop there," says Smith. "Sometimes I might frame the subject right inthe center because I feel that’s where it should be."
He continues, "I like to shoot from different points of view. I’m fond of getting on the ground or standing on my car or a ladder. Taking it beyond what and where the normal snapshot would be."
"Photographers often set up their cameras in one spot, take one photograph and move on," says Neill. "Sometimes this approach works, but most often, it indicates a lack of attention to the subject and results in poor composition. Experiment and try out different possibilities. There’s a significance to even a minor adjustment of camera position."
Practice By Proofing "Editing," says Neill,—is where all the learning takes place. It’s where you get to see options and see that 'that branch’ running cramped right up against the edge isn’t a good fit, and 'a little more space’ in the other image is better—and those are the kinds of things you learn in editing. And they’re the things you take out with you when you go shoot the next time."
Smith studies his own work, as well. Even after editing, he’ll go back and recheck his images to see if he may have missed something.
"I find if I revisit work two or three months later, there may be something in there that I initially thought didn’t work," he says. "Perhaps in the evolutionary process of shaping and challenging my own vision, there’s been some development that now allows me to go back and 'see’ it."