In my last post, I wrote about the rule of thirds and placing your subject to one side of the image in an attempt to create balance.
The question that one reader sent me in response to this tip was:
‘When taking pictures of people which side is it best to put them on, the right or the left?’
I’ve got a long answer and a short answer.
The Short Answer: It doesn’t matter.
The Long Answer: Having said that it doesn’t matter let me make one qualification.
As a rule (and we all know that they are made to be broken) if the person (and it works with animals too) you are photographing is looking in one direction or even if their head is pointing in that direction it is best to place them on the opposite side of the frame.
You’ll see it best illustrated in the images on this page – in each case the person is not being photographed head on but have their head pointing either to the left or the right. As a result the photographer has given them some space on the side that they are pointing/looking.
The reason for this is that when a person views an image with a person looking in one direction or the other their eyes also are drawn in that direction. In a sense you’re giving the subject of your image some space to look into and in doing so create a natural way for the photos viewer to flow into the photo also.
Even just a slight turn of the head can be effectively framed using this technique.
Breaking the Rule
Of course, breaking this rule produces interesting shots (in some cases more so). They might not be as aesthetically pleasing on some levels and could leave those viewing your images feeling a little on edge but this type of reaction to photos can be quite powerful also.