We learn to format our art with everything aligned in the center when we’re small. I don’t know why – maybe so we have enough space to add stuff on the sides. Perhaps because the subject should take center stage? I mean – it works that way in the theater. The star craves that front and center position! I’m not sure about all of that, and I didn’t feel like researching it, so let’s say it is what it is. But today, I’m going to challenge that long-time belief. Not everything needs to be centered. In fact, in photography, you will find that there is almost always a better way to compose your shots than plopping the subject directly in the front and center.
The rule of thirds is a great place to start, and it’s super simple! Imagine drawing a tic-tac-toe board over your image. Now picture where the lines intersect. These are the sweet spots in your photo and where the viewer’s eye naturally wants to go. Line up your focal point(s) at one or two intersections, and voila! You’ve taken your first step to produce a rockin’ crop!
Since we are talking about aspect ratios, this seems like the perfect time to address the best ratios for when you want to use your image online on social media. As I mentioned above, be sure you’re giving yourself extra space around your subjects when shooting. Even if you’re using your cell phone to take photos for social media, you’ll notice that each platform likes to crop your pictures for you before allowing you to post them. Here’s a quick rundown of the different aspect ratios that various social media platforms use for online images.
You’re about to learn something about me. I am a wee bit OCD when it comes to this rule for cropping photos. One of the first things that will drive me batty and ruin an image entirely for me is a crooked horizon! It’s a pretty simple fix that many beginning photographers (and even some more seasoned) miss. If your landscape photography image has a horizon line, it should be straight, even if you have a person whose entire body shows in it. That’s it. There are tools a-plenty when you’re cropping in Lightroom to make it right. Straightening the horizon is quick and straightforward. Just do it. Straighten it.