When you’re first getting into photography all the basic classes and books emphasize the importance of the rule of thirds. The rule of thirds is a great concept when you’re getting started, for avoiding center compositions, or when you’re lost on where to place the subject in the frame.
Rule of thirds refers to subject placement. So do other compositions such as all of the golden compositions based on a mathematical relationship such as the spiral, triangle, and ratio. The spiral works great for images with curves, the triangle for limbs such as trees or arms/elbows, and I find the ratio composition works well for architecture.
The golden ratio does not put the subject intersection lines on the third, but rather in the center or near center.
But it’s not the only theme to consideration, in fact, subject placement itself is not the only consideration. There are many tools and devices you can use to create a stronger photograph and help expand your compositional vocabulary.
Here are just a few fun things to try.
Negative space. Give your main subject some breathing (or swimming) room.
Fill the frame. Make use of the image space and get closer.
Use repetition to engage the viewer.
Use lines or curves to draw the line around and through the image.
Move the horizon line. Changing the horizon line from the lower section to the upper changes the feel from vast to solid.
Make use of your foreground, mid-ground, and background to add depth and dimension to your images.
Look for texture or patterns—they make for interesting and dynamic images.
And most of all, just have fun. Try new things, find what works, fix what doesn’t, but enjoy the process. If you’re not enjoying it, I truly believe you’re doing it wrong.