Boost Your Photography Portfolio With These Three Simple Rules

{Editor’s Note: I submitted this assignment before I knew that the personal photograph examples needed to be taken at the time of the assignment. Because of this I have decided to keep the original photos that were submitted as part of the PDF but have included photography examples with current photos from this semester underneath as well. Thanks.}

This week we learned rules and guidelines to produce quality, professional-looking photographs. There are several rules that make photography stand-out, but we’re going to talk about three: rule of thirds, leading lines, and Depth of Field. Below I have examples of each from professionals followed by my own interpretation of the rule as well.

Rule of Thirds

(Photo taken by the talented Angie Monson of Simplicity Photography.)

The rule of thirds is one of the most well-known photography rules. Basically you mentally divide your image into the rule of thirds with 2 horizontal lines and 2 vertical lines to break it up like I did in the image above. Angie does a nice job of placing her subject along one of the lines and placing her in the intersection as well. It creates a well-balanced photo that draws your eye to the woman and even to the house behind her.
Personal Example #1:

(Photo of my husband, Jim, and our beautiful daughters Lanie and Bella, taken by Michelle R. (personally taken).)

I used the rule of thirds with this photograph by placing my subjects (husband and daughters) off-center along the left lines of the rule of thirds and placing them in several intersecting points as well. I think that using the rule of thirds allowed this photograph to look well-balanced and natural. I also really enjoy the negative space around my subjects that I wouldn’t have gotten if I had centered the photograph.
Personal Example #2:

(Photo taken by Michelle R. (personally taken) of my sweet redhead, Bella.)

Leading Lines

(Photo taken by popular photographer Justin Hackworth)

This photo by Justin Hackworthy is a great example of using the leading lines technique. He used the roadway lines to give the photo a feeling of motion and the lines point inwards towards a vanishing point. The natural lines in the photograph lead you towards the subjects of the photo, which is intentional. I also think he did a good job with the composition of theme of the photo shoot because the leading lines naturally draw your eyes inward towards the couple who are getting married, or being drawn together as well.
Personal Example #1:

(Photo taken by Michelle R. (personally taken) of my friends Evelyn and Ian H.)

I tried to stretch myself by finding a different way to use leading lines than the typical road or path, and found this fun brick wall that used the leading lines rule. It’s a good example of leading lines because the angle of the wall automatically draw your attention towards the subjects of my photograph. I love how in this photo the lines lead in from the bottom of the frame and the top of the frame, and naturally guide your eyes towards the center where the subjects are located. The lines of this photograph give it a good dimension and depth that makes it unique, creative and fun.
Personal Example#2:

(Photo taken by Michelle R. (personally taken) of my handsome superhero son, Jaxson)

Depth of Field

(Photo by accomplished photographer Caralee Case)

Caralee Case does a great example using depth of field in her photo. The subjects in this photograph are crisp and in focus, while the background of the photograph are blurred and out-of-focus to show a narrow depth of field. Because of this narrowed depth of field it really draws your attention towards the subject instead of the business of the background. It also gives a good amount of contrast between the sharp subjects and the blurred background, and makes it look professional and pleasing to look at.
Personal Example #1:

(Photo taken by Michelle R. (personally taken) of my adorable niece Lydia W.)

I took this photo of my niece Lydia using a narrow depth of field that created a nice bokeh effect in the photograph. You can determine it is a narrowed depth of field because my niece’s face is in focus, while the background landscape appears blurred. I was able to create this narrowed depth of field bokeh effect by using the lowest aperture setting available on my camera lens, which was a f/1.8.
Personal Example #2:

(Photo taken by Michelle R. (personally taken) of my beautiful daughter, Elena and my niece Mia.)


Using photography rules such as placing your subjects within the rule of thirds, using leading lines to draw attention to your subjects, and creating a nice use of depth of field in your photographs give them creative dimension and contrast. These rules allow you to compose a nice arrangement in your photos to draw attention to the subjects of your photograph in a natural and creative way. If you haven’t tried out these photography rules before, give them a try!


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