For some time I have been wanting to write a post or two on some of the different compositional techniques in photography and how to better apply them specifically to boudoir. Given that the rule of thirds is one of the most widely taught to newcomers, and most cameras have the option of displaying a rule of thirds grid as you shoot, it seemed like that most logical place to start.
A Refresher on The Rule of Thirds
The rule of thirds involves segmenting an image with two vertical lines and two horizontal lines evenly spaced to give nine boxes with four points of intersection. You also get 6 longer rectangles that divide the photo into thirds, 3 vertical and 3 horizontal. By placing a subject at one of the points of intersection, on one of the lines, in one of the thirds, or filling one of the nine boxes the viewer's eye will be drawn to it.
One of the most common ways I see the rule of thirds being used in boudoir is with the eyes. I see this in three ways. One, the eyes are placed on the top horizontal line in portraits like in the photo above. Two, they are placed on one of the vertical lines. Three, they are placed at one of the intersections.
Another popular way I see the rule of thirds is to create negative space. By keeping your subject on one of the three thirds and leaving two blank you create negative space. We are used to seeing a subject in the middle of the photo that by having them to one side and nothing else you create interest.
Most detail shots I see are simple ones where the subject, the ring in the photo above, is shot front and center. However, you can use the rule of thirds here too. The intersection points are prime places to photograph details. You can also place them on one of the quartering lines as in the photo above.
If you decide to take your shooting outside keep in mind your horizon line. By placing your horizon lines on either the top or bottom horizontal axis you can help to draw attention to the foreground or the background.
When using a foreground object you can place it in either one of the outside vertical thirds or the top/bottom third. This is very similar to when you are creating negative space and allows a good balance between the foreground object and the rest of the photo.
As you can see the rule of thirds is a versatile composition tool. This is one of the reasons that it is routinely pushed as the first tool that beginning photographers should learn. That said, once you learn it don’t be afraid to try something new.