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How to use centered composition in your photography

I am a fan of centered composition because I believe it is an effective way to give your subject importance and an easy way to tell the viewer where the main focus is. I know a lot of people think it is easy to center a shot, some say it feels amateurish and avoid centering their subject at all cost... for no reason.

The thing is, why have your subject off-centered if it's not justified? Every decision you make will have an impact. I've said it before, each shot must be thought out, and whatever your choice is, it must be motivated. You may not make the best decision, but at least, you are taking one.

What is your story? What message do you want to convey, what are the different elements that compose your shot... what do you wish to capture and why? This raises a lot of questions that I personally try to answer before I release that shutter. I don't shoot and crop later, once the image is captured most of the work should be done unless the project needs some heavy compositing or digital enhancements.

"Centered composition" has been an important part of my photography since I started working regularly with wide-angle lenses. They distort and warp your scene and of course, your subject. Unless this is something you are going after the only way to minimize this effect is to center your main focus.

There is no Ambiguity here, even if your subject only represents a small portion of your shot we know they are the main focus. I personally love the impact and epic feel it gives to as scenes and poses.

Eloïze Rignon - Musée des Augustins (Toulouse - France)

5D mark III + Broncolor Siros L (800ws)

1/250 f4 ISO100 at 16mm

Lyria Van Moer - Palais des festivals (Cannes - France)

5D mark III + Broncolor Siros L (800ws) 1/1600 f9 ISO320 at 11mm

From the Carlton Pontoon to the Palais des Festivals

Usually, I do play a little bit with the distortion by shooting from the bottom up. When working with dancers, this gives them long legs and I just love that perspective. Lauren Kennedy (Toulouse)

5D mark III + Broncolor Siros L (800ws) 1/1000 f5 ISO200 at 16mm

Another reason to center your subject is symmetry. I love Wes Anderson, if you don't know who this amazing film director is, shame on you. My work has nothing in common with his in terms of aesthetics but we do share that love of symmetry and centered shots.

Tatiana Van Onna - W hôtel (Amsterdam)

5D mak III 1/500 f5 ISO100 at 41mm

It doesn't have to be perfect, symmetry can be induced by only a few common elements on the right and left sides of your shot.

Casey Wood - Capitole (Toulouse - France)