Digital Photography Principles – Center of Interest

Good pictures are not created by chance. One has to be equipped with basic principles of composition. The arrangement of the elements in a picture can be influenced to catch the attention of the viewers. When taking a photo, you need to consider the position of each and every element in the picture.

One very important skill in photography is called “center of interest.” Centering involves placing the subject in the center of the frame. It is not necessarily that the subjects to be exactly centered. Some subjects which are centered can still use the rule of thirds.

Why use the principle of center of interest?

Here are the reasons why every photographer should apply “center of interest” in their photography work:

To draw attention to the subject

For you to draw attention in an effective way to the point of interest, try centering, especially when the composition is busy and when there are many similar objects that compete for attention. This is because eyes will always go straight to the center stage of the image. Centering different and strong subjects helps draw attention too. 
Also, when there are few items in the composition, you can place the object at the center of the image. If you want to take photographs of stand-alone objects without showing the background and foreground and the subject filling the frame, centering will focus on the subject itself and help toward the overall aesthetics of the final product.

To create a sense of space or size

In order to create a sense of space and size, centering can be used. When a subject surrounded by either smaller or larger objects is centered, the size of the subject is emphasized. For example, if a house photographed in the middle of a big pasture area, a sense of ‘smallness’ is created.


Centering can as well be used to create a sense of belonging to a space or a sense of loss. If you photograph a child surrounded by many toys, you create an atmosphere where the child belongs to space which is around them. Equally, if you photograph a child surrounded by toys and a small empty space around the child before the toys , a sense of loss and separation is created. 
In both pictures, the child is the center of attention. The blank space in the second image would be centered with the child as it becomes part of the center of attention and the barrier to the toys.

To overcome location difficulties

Some subjects or backgrounds/foregrounds will not allow you to compose according to the golden ratio or rule of thirds. In some instances, the only photograph you can take is a centered one.


In other cases, the background or foreground objects may be distracting or when an element to the side of subject intrudes on the image and the subject is not centered. When such events occur, you should center the subject. 

A centered subject commands more positive attention than a subject with a lamppost behind his/her head.

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