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'X' marks the spot: where to place a couple in a frame

Where can you place your couple in the frame for maximum impact? This is a fundamental question for any portrait photographer. It’ll be top of your consideration list, together with light and lines, and certainly something you’ll need to decide before you give any basic instructions to your subjects.

Position i
The two compositional rules that should be at the forefront of your mind when placing a couple in a frame are the rule of thirds and negative space. Very rarely should you aim to centre your couple in the frame, not unless you have some strong leading lines that pull you right into its centre or if there’s a strong framing device—for example a door or a window— with which to surround them.
Using negative space can set up a dynamic composition and to give weight to the environment as well as to the couple.
Take a look at the photograph at the top of the article. If there hadn’t been a cactus on the side of the frame opposite the couple, this would not be as strong a composition. As it is, the tree is central and the couple off-sets the cactus, creating a balanced and dynamic composition.
Position iii
The image with the couple framed by the door came about because it made sense to encorporate what was an environmentally interesting object – the doorway.
Position ii
While it might look as if the grass in the foreground is taller than the couple, that’s a trick of persepctive. The photographer was crouching down on the floor. Placing them in the bottom half of the frame emphasised the dramatic storm clouds in the sky.
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Wedding Photography Field Guide, Michelle TurnerThe Wedding Photography Field Guide, by Michelle Turner
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