Strategic Placement for Camera Composition

Strategic Placement rule is another much followed rules in photography composition for the placement of horizon lines and of major picture elements are related to, and perhaps derived from, the golden mean, but are somewhat less exact and more flexible in application than the latter is.


Strategic placement dictates that you should never divide an image into equal parts either horizontally or vertically. The horizon line, or any other main horizontal subject boundary, should always be placed some significant but unspecified distance above or below the vertical center of the picture, just as any important vertical line or mass should be placed more to one side than the other.

The rules of strategic placement which have the effect of keeping the picture somewhat asymmetrical are meant to avoid static, dull compositions. Now and then, however, you will have very good reason to do just what you supposedly should not. Sometimes a picture just "looks right" when it is so divided by centering the subject. You may do it to amplify the serenity of a scene, or, on the other hand, to introduce or amplify a foreboding and threatening presence, for maximum psychological effect. Moreover, in a photograph of an object or of a building, a formal, centered composition may be the only arrangement that makes sense.
As always in photography, the best thing to do is to follow your visual instincts. You should not, however, compose aimlessly. You should think about it.


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