Anatomy of a Stellar Picture

Anatomy of a Stellar Picture


So, you’ve got the equipment, you’ve got your photography subject—now what? The anatomy of a stellar picture involves making sure that you achieve certain aesthetic qualities and photographic techniques. All the photog-jargon can be a little confusing at first, especially if you’ve just started snapping, so in this article, we will give you a few key pointers as to how to achieve the best picture. There are several categories you should make sure that your picture meets the criteria for. These include framing, focal point, lighting, the rule of thirds, and balance.


Framing is the way in which you place every object in the picture so as to achieve the result you desire. You can attain the effect you want by altering and manipulating the viewpoint. For example, if you want your viewer to have a distanced perspective of the subject, you would take the picture in a wide-frame angle. This way, more background information, and imagery accompany the subject of the photo and that manipulates the way the viewer feels about it. Likewise, you can make the photo more personal by framing the subject in a way that is intimate to the viewer by shooting it as a close-up.

Focal Point

Before you shoot, decide what the most important element in your photo is—what do you want the viewer to see? Note: the photo’s subject does not have to be dead-center in order for it to be the focal point. That is a common mistake among newer photographers who are unsure how to go about framing the focal point. If set up correctly (see “the rule of thirds” further down this list), your focal point will be noticeable regardless of how centered or not centered it is. The amount of white space in a photo is the imagery in the background that is not the focal point and that can be used in a way to complement the subject of the photo and balance it.


You don’t want to under-light or over-light your picture, particularly the subject. For example, placing the subject of your photo with his or her back to direct sunlight would be a poor photography choice. Over-lighting is another common mistake that new photographers make. You want to make sure that your photo is adequately lit, but you also don’t want to overkill the lighting, as that can make the subject look faded or washed out.

Rule of Thirds

The Rule of Thirds, as aforementioned, is all about balancing your focal point. The rule is actually pretty simple. Imagine breaking down your image into nine parts—dividing it into three sections horizontally and three vertically, making four lines total. The rule of thirds claims that if you place the focal points along these lines, it will make it more appealing to the eye. It will seem more natural. So, if you’re taking a photo of a daisy, the center of the daisy would be placed at an intersection. The rule is easy to grasp, especially when you’re shooting landscapes.


Balancing the white space and focal point of your image will also make it seem more natural and pleasing to the eye. You don’t want to overbear your viewers with a lot of negative space, nor do you want to make the focal point in the picture so dominating that it cancels out the image and there’s nowhere for the eye to focus on.

Part of being a great photographer isn’t just understanding the anatomy of a stellar picture; a lot of it comes down to whether or not you have an eye for picture taking. Go with your gut feeling and don’t be afraid to tinker with an image until you’re satisfied with it. Also, practice makes perfect. Don’t be discouraged if your photos don’t look like Ansel Adams’ at first. With time, you’ll hone your skills. Also, by purchasing an action camera, like the Polaroid Cube, you can record yourself taking photos, to use as a reference to note your errors for the future.

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