You can turn your travel photos from good to great by being aware of a few tricks professional photographers use every day. One of these tricks includes a composition technique known as the Rule of Thirds.

Do you always put your subject in the center of your photos? Don’t. Instead, use the Rule of Thirds and position the subject off to one side – roughly a third of the way across the image. What this does is create tension and interest in the picture, so when someone looks at your photo, it captures their attention for longer.

Here’s how you do it. Mentally divide the scene into 9 equal parts using 2 vertical and two horizontal lines. Then, place your subject near one of the intersections. Take a look at the example below.

In the first picture above, our eyes follow the Mexican basket weaver out of the photo. In the second image, the subject is placed in the middle with a distracting background. Now take a look at the third photo. By walking around the subject and trying different camera angles, I have positioned the man in the right third of the image. There’s also a solid, non-distracting background behind his head.

When deciding whether to place the subject on the right or left side of your image, consider that it is usually best to have the subject face into rather than out of the photo. This is so that the viewer’s gaze stays on the photo rather than leaves it. Also, think about what else is in the photo and let that be a part of your story or message too.

Take a look at the basket weaver again. Notice how his body faces into the photo. Another reason this composition is better is because it lets us see some of his workshop, creating more visual interest.

Here are two other examples of using the Rule of Thirds. Notice the direction your eye travels as well as the other information in the photos.

In this photo, the Panama Hat is placed in the upper third of the photo and includes the straw used to weave the hats.

By placing the child at the one-third point in this image, we see him in the context of his home in the Azores islands with his mother.

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