Facebook. Flickr. Instagram. Picasa. Twitpic. Photobucket. Snapfish. Smugmug. Everybody you know is posting their photos online, somewhere, somehow. And the most common, numero uno “flaw” I see whenever a person is the subject of a photo is this:
The subject’s head is squarely in the center of the photo. Her body is cut off at an awkward point, and there is an enormous amount of empty, boring sky overhead. Now, this is a completely natural thing to do. As a typical human being, your focus is on your friend’s face. And your camera’s focus, quite literally, is in the same spot. But you need to embrace technology, break some boundaries, and MOVE YOUR CAMERA. Move the viewfinder down a bit. Maybe even turn it sideways. Take two steps closer. Now:
The simplest thing to do, and if your photos fall prey to Centered Head Syndrome it will improve them by 1000%, is to think to yourself, “head to toe.” While looking through the viewfinder, can you see your friend’s head and toes? Good. Start there.
There are plenty of instances where you’ll want to get creative and start cropping your friend’s body for artistic purposes, and there are diagrams online which tidily map out where to crop, or not crop, for the best image. You can delve into the “Rule of Thirds” to think about better composition overall, no matter what the subject of your photo. But before you go there, I want you to have 10 photos under your belt where you can see your friend, or friends, from head to toe. Master this one thing, and then expand on what you’ve learned. Your friends will thank you for it.
With many thanks to the U.S. Gov’t/Peace Corps for providing a copyright restriction-free photo of a beach in Togo. It’s so restriction-free that I don’t need to credit anyone or anything, but I will, because I can.