Today's Tricks of the Trade article is the second on the basics of compositional rules.If you read last weeks Tricks of the Trade article on the rule of thirds you’ll be introduced to the concept and basic application of compositional rules.


Compositional rules give us a secondary tool to use when building our photogrpahic compositions called “Action Points.”

Action points are at the intersection of the rule lines. These are the points within an image where peoples attention naturally falls. By placing critical subjects at these action points we draw peoples eye to them and make them a stronger element within the image.

Here you can see the chair arm and cup are at an action point as is the bed pillows. We placed these elements in these positions as a means of calling attention to them to help draw the viewers attention to other aspects of the image. By using action points we give the chair arm and cup greater visual importance within the image.

Controlling selected elements importance to the overall composition of our image through strategic placement within the compositional blocks, at the action points and along the rule lines helps us control what the viewer sees and how they interpret it.

The “Rule of Thirds” is only one compositional rule. It is the easiest rule to work with and will help create a well balanced image but there are other rules that can be very effective in the right circumstances. I’ll be speaking on alternative compositional rules in the coming weeks so check back soon.