Composition seems to be the component in photography that allot of people struggle with. You are told you must stick to the basic rules of composition. Then, sometimes, you are told that it's OK to break those rules. So, follow the rules...break the rules...it all makes sense now, right?
I generally base most of my compositions off the "rule of thirds". The rule of thirds, if you aren't aware of it, is a composition rule that divides your image into thirds both horizontally and vertically so you have nine parts, or squares, like a tic tac toe board. The idea is to place your main point of focus at one of the intersecting points of the squares. This is supposed to make your image better balanced and give a more natural viewing experience. Like I mentioned, this is the rule I base almost all of my compositions off of. It's what I am always thinking about when I compose a shot through the viewfinder.
There are times, however, that I want my subject in the center of the frame. You will hear many give advice against putting your subject in the dead center of the frame. However, when I do it, I am still thinking about the rule of thirds.
This elk, for example, is in the center of the frame. As I was composing this shot, I was thinking about the rule of thirds, like always, and wanted to position his eyes on the "upper" third line. Although the eyes aren't at one of the intersecting points, they are placed along the line of thirds. In my opinion, this still works. Being an outdoor/nature photographer, I use this type of composition most often when photographing wildlife. In a scene like this one, where the critter is looking straight into the lens, I think it works well. It gives you a sense of making direct eye contact with the critter. Personally, I don't think you would get that instant sense if this scene were composed with the elk's eyes at one of the intersecting points.
Composition rules...follow them, bend them, break them. Do whatever it takes to make the image a pleasurable experience for the viewer.
This elk was photographed in Cataloochie Valley in The Great Smoky Mountain National Park.
This image was made using my Nikon D500 and Tamron 150-600 G2 Lens mounted on my Sirui Tripod with PH-20 Gimbal Head. Camera settings can be viewed by hovering over the image.