Other Pictorial Issues

In addition to composition and the design elements already discussed, the following list of pictorial issues may also be considered both when deconstructing or analysing photographs, and when making photographs:

The Rules of Composition

The following 'rules' of composition, presented in Photocommunication - A Guide to Creative Photography by eminent photography educator David Curl in 1979, reflect those traditionally taught to photography students.

  • Have a single, dominant centre of interest.
  • Place the centre of interest away from the middle of the photograph.
    Follow the Rule of Thirds (or the Golden Ratio).
  • Keep the horizon level, placing it according to the ‘rule of thirds’.
    Do not cut an image into two equal parts either horizontally or vertically.
  • Do not allow important tones and textures in your main subject to merge with the background.
  • Fill the frame. Do your cropping with the viewfinder.
  • Keep extraneous details out of the photograph.
  • Do not 'amputate' parts of your main subject at awkward places.
  • Avoid distracting shapes at the very edges of the photograph.
  • Have the main subject facing or moving into the frame, rather than out of it.
  • Frame the principle subject with a complementary background object to suggest depth.
  • Concentrate attention with leading lines such as convergence lines and 'S' curves.
  • Compose vertically to emphasise height and dignity.
  • Compose horizontally to suggest peace and rest.
  • Use strong diagonal lines to imply movement or action.