The Photo Commandments
(or, um, suggestions)



I. Be Active and Move!

-Move yourself, move your camera, or move objects to get a better composition

point your camera in different directions

move your body higher or lower




II. Be Quick, Be Ready, or Wait

-Be ready at all times to capture that perfect "decisive moment" or wait for one





III. Fill the Picture Frame with Essentials

-The choices you make on what to include the frame affects the meaning of the photo

 - click HERE for a guided lesson




IV. Minimize the Unnecessary

-Do not include extra stuff that distracts the viewer. NO CLUTTER!!!

-Do not ignore the background. Be aware of everything in the frame.


the clutter in the background takes away from the picture


background objects that are NOT clutter

foreground objects that are NOT clutter





V. Obey The Rule of Thirds

-Don't put objects directly in the center. Or maybe you should.

-To the side usually makes a dynamic photograph. Centered objects are static.











When photos follow the rule of thirds, it helps the eye to move across the image.


Subjects in the center of a mostly symmetrical photo give a formal look





VI. Honor the Orientation of the Picture Plane and the P.O.V

-Horizontal, Vertical, or Skewed

-Low Angles, High Angles, and Unusual Angles

-More examples found HERE




looking slightly down




VII. Honor ALL Shapes

-From positive/negative shape

-From shadows and light



Photography: Crooked Shadow Artwork-ID: 36-1502




VIII. Honor the Elements of Art and Principles of Design

-line, color, value, texture, shape, form, space

-unity, balance, dominance, repetition, rhythm, contrast, theme/variation

-for examples please visit HERE




IX. Use a Tripod for Shutter Speeds at 30 and under

-If there is not enough light, the camera might want a longer shutter speed. With a longer shutter speed comes "shakey" blurred photos.

-On digital cameras, you can adjust the ISO to avoid this problem




X. Break the Rules when it will Improve the Photograph

-Know what the rules are, but break them if it will produce a better photo. As Tim Gunn says on Project Runway, "Make it work"




Amendments to the Commandments


Show the Eyespace

-show the area your subject is looking into.

eyespace cut off, giving a sense of unease


eyespace shown

eyespace shown upwards

eyespace shown looking down




Beware the Sprouting Pole

-trees, poles, or any other objects that come out of someones head look strange.



Show Space

-portraits have a sense of space if there is at least 4 feet of nothingness behind a person.

- photos have a sense of space if they have objects in the foreground, midground, and background.


subject is right up against wall, no sense of space is shown


nothing is right behind the subjects


objects in the foreground, midground, and background show space

objects in the foreground, midground, and background show space




Show the Unexpected

-notice odd things in life and capture them with your camera