nyc_manhattan_family_photographer086There are a ton of “rules” when it comes to kids’ photography – sometimes it can be a bit overwhelming. Where should you start? What rules are more important than others? When you have a handle on the basics, where should you go next?

We’ve got your back; here’s a list of the top 10 photography composition rules. Each contains a brief overview, as well as a link to more information. Start at the top and work your way down.

Focal Point

Some photographers may say that the Rule of Thirds is the most important rule, but without a focal point you are at a disadvantage when including the rule of thirds in portraits of your children.

Focal point is one of the most straightforward composition rules – you need to find something that stands out. For portraits, this could be an eye, nose, mouth, etc. For pulled-back portraits (full body, etc.) you can use the head, or something in their hands.

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This is a good example of the rule of thirds, with our (super cute) subject to the left third of the frame. The sky, water, and sand are also divided roughly into thirds.


Rule of Thirds

Unless you are working with a perfectly symmetrical image (hint – faces are not symmetrical) then you never want to center your image or subject. Thirds is better, so try to divide the scene into threes. Start with your focal point, but also apply the rule to the foreground and background.

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Leading Lines

Half the challenge of photography is choosing your focal point, as mentioned above; the second half is helping your focal point stand out if it is not already obvious. Using leading lines can help ensure your focal point is more obvious. Leading lines can be just about anything, as long as they lead towards your focal point.

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Balancing Elements

Once you have a handle on the rule of thirds you may find that your images are a bit, tippy – in that the side with your subject feels too heavy. Adding a balancing element on the opposite side can help to add a sense of balance and symmetry.

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By cropping out unnecessary details, all the focus is on the subject.

By cropping out unnecessary details, all the focus is on the subject.


When taking a photo, cropping refers to how you arrange everything in your image; what you choose to “crop” out. You generally want to crop out anything that doesn’t contribute to the overall image (think things like power lines, other people, distracting elements).

Of course, as a parent photographer it can be nearly impossible to get ever image perfect in camera, which is why you may want to spend a bit of time cropping your digital files with a photo editing program.

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Stay tuned for next week’s post, which will feature the next five composition rules you may want to consider learning!

Want to learn more than this? A copy of my book can help!

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