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Breaking Digital Photography Composition Rules

Although you can find all kinds of rules when composing a photograph, rules are made to be broken. When you take digital photos, you need to know these composition rules — but you don’t always have to follow them:


Don’t center your subject.

You can break this rule when your subject is so powerful and occupies most of the frame that it demands to be on center stage.


Don’t tilt the camera to fit a tall object in the frame.

When you have a unique piece of architecture whose height you want to exaggerate, tilting the camera is just what the doctor ordered. This figure emphasizes the height of the structure.


Don’t shoot a close-up with a wide-angle lens.

When you shoot a close-up with a wide-angle lens, you distort the objects closest to the camera, but sometimes that’s what you want.


Don’t have more than one center of interest.

If you have a wonderful scene with interesting elements, like in this figure, you can have multiple centers of interest. When done correctly, the multiple centers of interest direct the viewer’s eye around the photo.


Keep the camera level.

You can break this rule when you have a strong horizontal element in the scene. Align the camera so that the horizontal element is diagonal and take a picture.


When in doubt, compose the picture by following the rules, and then take another picture that breaks those rules. When you examine them side-by-side, you’ll know which one is best.

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