Remember though Rule of Thirds is a choice. The Art Police will not arrest you for not using it. There are many other techniques to guide your composition besides rule of thirds: Rule of Odds, Rule of Space, Simplification, Geometry & Symmetry, and many more. This image of frozen vines from a previous winter trip doesn't use Rule of Thirds. It uses negative & positive spaces, plus a dynamic tonal range to weave you through the image. The vignette added afterwards keeps your eye in the center while the branches carry the eye around. And yes, I did ask myself those pesky questions.
I created this because I had traveled up north after a snow storm. Being a Florida boy, seeing snow and ice just laying around everywhere is novel. I had pulled over looking for gas and to my dismay the gas station had not been in service for awhile. Vines had grown over it and were slowly devouring the building. The vines had been frozen in ice. I walked around the building crunching through the snow and I took several images. When I began to look through the vines I saw what I had been thinking. My old photography teacher referred to this as, "Think before you click!" My thought was, "trapped in the winter was the possibilities of renewal or rebirth." Not a new thought, but it was one I wanted to capture.
Regardless on how you apply composition to your work, it should help in telling a story. Remember life isn't two dimensional. Heck, it's not even three dimensional. Just because you've reduced a decisive moment into a "thing" that represents that moment, doesn't mean it should be "blah." A photograph, or other work of art, should imply a story sense. The beauty and challenge of photography is that the story doesn't have to be linear. You can start anywhere. The image could be from the middle, the end or the beginning of the story. It all comes down to you thinking about what you want to say.
Rule of Thirds is simply one of the ways to exercise your brain into thinking about what you have to say. There are many more books and YouTube videos out there that discuss composition in magnificent detail. I highly recommend exploring them all. As you do you'll find your voice as you tell your story with images.
In his book Mastering Composition author and professional photographer Richard Garvey-Williams "argues that success lies in a combination of four elements: an impactful subject; dynamic composition; effective use of lighting; and, perhaps the most crucial, ability to invoke an emotional response in the viewer."
If anyone is interested in going down this rabbit hole, I'm meeting on Saturday, February 27th to have a coffee talk about composition. I'm calling it the JPI Foto Group and we will meet at JPI at 2:30 PM. This is a FREE meeting no strings. Just bring up to 5 prints, no bigger than 10x15, of your work to share. The opening theme suggestion for the first meeting is Black & White. Like I said the theme is just a suggestion. Bring your favorite print or something that you've been stuck on. Just email me to let me know you are coming. Oh did I mention snacks and drinks...? My treat! (sorry no alcohol). Seating is Limited.
As always I'm interested in hearing your thoughts about photography. You can reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thank you for sticking with my ramblings.
Director of Education