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Composition: Where to put the head.

What’s up there? 

I see this over and over again, especially when I hand the camera to someone else to take my picture. 

People see the red square (the focus point), or these days the face detection box, and think they need to put peoples’ faces dead center in the composition.  I’m at a loss for words as to why. 

Not too long ago I relived this puzzle.  I asked a lady to take a picture of me in front of a point of interest.   When she handed the camera back to me she said so proudly, “It looks great! I got you right in the middle!”  I thought to myself, “Oh no!”   Suspecting what I’d find, I had a look at the back of the camera anyway and thought, “But why?!  What’s up there?  There’s nothing but empty space!”   So I put my best polite smile on for the lady, who still seemed so pleased with her shot, and just said “thank you” because I didn’t have the heart to ask her to take it again.   I chalked it up to the fact that photographers just never seem to get great pictures of themselves, (unless they get another professional or at least some with a natural eye for composition to photograph them that is). 

So here’s your tip. 

Next time you take people shots, try and fill the frame by putting their heads closer to the top than the center.  Sure you can leave some space up there, you just don’t need half the frame.   You’ll make my day if it happens to be you taking my picture after you’ve mastered this!

  • Margaret - July 23, 2010 - 3:47 pm

    Ha! The first picture is actually pretty funny… unless you’re trying to get a picture more like the second, in which case it’s a total failure. 😉

    Good tip!

  • Renata - July 23, 2010 - 3:52 pm

    Let’s hear it for Margaret: Our Fabulous Model! Stay tuned for more in this series, they’re lots of fun!

  • Zoe - July 23, 2010 - 4:11 pm

    Margaret is a GREAT model! The second shot is a big time winner, too!

  • Jen - July 24, 2010 - 7:16 pm

    Hee. This series is already awesome. I love that you’re making good use of Margaret’s range of facial expressions for these how-to snippets!

  • Tom Wieczorek - July 26, 2010 - 9:59 am

    Margaret is a great model and a good sport! More Margaret!

  • Joan Barber - July 27, 2010 - 1:06 pm

    Guilty as charged. That’s a great tip Renata — thank you! A little late for me though since I just got back from a NYC trip, where I took loads of pics (they would not meet with your approval) LOL. Oh well…there is always next time 🙂

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