Sunday, May 23, 2010

Breaking the (composition) Rules in New York

New York Sidwalk Sleeper
As I was reviewing some of my past posts, I realized I frequently talk about compositional rules but have failed to mention the most important rule – IT IS OK TO BREAK THE RULES!!!
Honestly, I think conventions like “the rule of thirds” should be toned down to something much softer…maybe the concept of thirds.  There are a number of ways to break the rule of thirds.  One of my favorites is shown in the first photograph.  By placing the subject in a corner, the balance of the composition can be used to draw the eye to the subject.  In this case, the majority of the photograph is composed of the sidewalk helping the eye move up to the man waking from a peaceful sleep on the sidewalks of New York.
Bicycle in Grand Central Station
The second way to break this rule is putting the subject square in the middle of the composition.  Making this approach to breaking the rules is difficult  because in general I believe it is too ordinary or pedestrian to find the subject in the center of the composition, but I think it works for this photograph of a bicycle messenger hustling through the grand hall of Grand Central Station in New York.  There are other points of interest that fall on the 1/3 lines, but the cyclist is clearly centered.
Metro North Tickets Grand Central Station
My final recommendation for breaking the rules is related to the first approach.  Rather than composing your subject in a corner, move them to one of the vertical or horizontal margins.  In this case, the subjects (people on the move in the Great Hall of Grand Central Station in New York) are at the very bottom of the composition.
So please keep this in mind: there is an exception for every rule and it is often quite fun and challenging to creatively break the rules.
Have fun, and go break some (composition) rules!

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