Know Your Subject

Choose a subject you can relate to or a hobby you enjoy.

What catches your eye? Why does it appeal to you? You should be asking yourself these things when you are taking pictures. If you choose subjects that you feel a connection with you will create more interesting photos. This is simply because you are interested in the subject yourself.

The subject can be anything from people, animals, wildlife, nature, landscapes, toys, games and buildings. The list is endless.

Landscape across a light, bright field with one tree


Rule of Thirds

Photographic composition grid

This rule is easy if you have a grid view in your camera viewfinder. Your view is divided into nine sections by two vertical lines and two horizontal lines. Look at the four points where the lines intersect. These form thirds of the image.For a more pleasing image place your subject at either of these vertical lines. Now look at the horizontal lines. A more interesting image is created when the horizon image is either at the top horizontal line or the bottom horizontal line.

Egg marked up with grid, showing placement that isn't rule of thirds
Egg marked up with grid, showing placement that isn't rule of thirds
Egg marked with photographic grid showing rule of thirds
Egg with grid showing rule of thirds placement
Young girl leaning against a wooden fence

If you are photographing a person, place the eye closest to the camera on one of the intersecting points.

Leading Lines

This is a composition technique for beginners as it’s easy to pick up and once learned you’ll never “unsee” leading lines. These lead the viewer’s eye to the subject but can be used to direct the eye out of the image or wherever you want the eye to go. Examples of these could be: a row of clouds, rivers or a line of trees, roads, rails, converging buildings. When photographing people, arms and legs – your subject’s limb placement – leads the viewer’s eye to the subject’s face. Leading lines don’t have to be straight.

Wooden track framed by trees


landscape of palm trees in ancient walled garden

You can frame your subject in a variety of ways, for example in an archway, a door or on a bridge. If you want a more natural frame use a tree branch, cave or mountain. Or your subject could create a frame by posing with arms or hands positioned around their face.

Child holding up painted hands used to frame face


If something is repeated once or twice it makes the photo more interesting. If its repeated several times it becomes a pattern. Colour, shape, parts of objects or whole objects can be repeated for strong composition.

Steps fanning outwards
Barrels lined up

Focal Point

Leaving space around your subject gives it “breathing room” within the frame. The minimalism of this photographic composition technique ensures that the viewer’s eye is drawn to the subject.

Wall lights surrounded by pillars


Silhouettes - cast shadows across a field of pylon and furrows
Outdoor lights in a pattern

These are formed by repetition of shapes, objects and lines. They create harmony within an image. The trick with patterns is to make sure they fill the frame. Inserting an object will break the pattern to add another level of interest to your image.

Nighttime shot. Lights of buildings, reflected on the Sage Building, Gateshead and the river Tyne below

Further free tutorial blogs will be available soon on:

  • Light and creative lighting
  • Focus and depth of field
  • Editing


Chris Page of Page Photography is one of the judges of our Life in the Age of Lockdown Photography Competition (Running Nov 2020-Jan 2021).  Chris has been a professional photographer for 15 years. His business specialises in large staged groups of up to 350 people; and school, family and university portraiture. He has a special interest in the use of creative lighting.