How to take better photos of your henna series Part 3

Positioning your subject

The position of the subject is probably more important than your background, although a background should not be ignored.  If you are in a bind and need to quickly take a shot, choose position over background. 

A good photo follows the photographic principle of the “Rule of Thirds”—“ROT”  while this is not a rule to follow, it is a great basis for taking photos, of henna or anything else. 

The ROT is to imagine breaking an image down into thirds, both horizontally and vertically so that you have nine parts.  The intersecting lines are where you should consider placing your points of interest of your subject.  The theory behind ROT is that if you place points of interest in the intersections or along the lines, then your photo becomes more balanced and will enable the viewer to interact with your photo naturally.  Studies have shown that when viewing images, people’s eyes usually go to one of the intersection points more naturally than the center of the image. 

A real life application is to place an interesting henna motif at one of the intersecting lines.  You can also place your subject on one of the vertical lines, thereby making it off-center, but photographically giving the viewer a natural way to look at your photo.  In learning how to use the rule of thirds, the most important questions to be asking of yourself are what are the points of interest in this shot AND where am I intentionally placing them?

When taking photos of your henna work, you want to try to place your main focus on the intersecting lines, or in one of the thirds sections created by the intersecting line.  The ROT is also just a basic principle that should be applied to photography—in order to generate interest in your photo. 

Another photographic theory similar to the ROT, is the Divine Ratio.  This theory is derived from ancient Greek mathematics.  Two numbers are in the golden ratio if their ratios is the same as the ratio of their sum to the greater of the two quantities.  a/b=(a+b)/b  .   

Fibonacci’s number sequence also falls into place with the golden ratio.  A more recent theory of positioning your subject uses the Fibonacci spiral.  The spiral is created by placing connecting arcs in the squares created by the Divine Ratio depiction.  Instead of delving into mathematics, let’s place this simply.  In photography, you can follow the rule of thirds, which is easy enough to calculate, or you can follow the Divine Ratio principle, by placing your subject on the intersecting lines created by the spiral.  This is not to say that you should take out your ruler and protractor to measure your photo’s ratio, but it is a general rule that can be applied when framing your photo, or even when cropping it when you edit.

Placing your subject in the center of the image is okay, so don’t be afraid to do so, but it is almost always better to place your subject in one of the “thirds” of your frame.  This goes for all types of photos, whether they are 8x10 prints, or the square Instagram posts.  When you utilize the third of the photo to fill your frame with your subject, in our case, the henna body art, you are able to “give away” the rest 2/3 of the frame to your background, thereby helping your viewer not only bring natural attention to your henna work, but also connect with the image by the mood you set with the background.  

Next week, we will go over how to take better photos for Instagram.  If you are on Instagram, give us a follow and we will follow back @HennaArtCanada.  Until then, happy hennaing!