Visual Focal Point

As you set up each individual shot, you should be aware of what and where the main focal point (visual point of interest) is within the framing.  So many times, novice photographers simply point the camera at the subject and click the shutter button without any further thought or consideration as to how the subject of the photograph will be conveyed to the viewer.

Consider the entire frame as you contemplate your photograph.  Take special note of how the main subject or focal point is visible compared to the surrounding items in the shot.  Is the subject plainly visible?  Are there other distracting objects in the photograph that are going to compete with the main subject for the viewer’s attention?  Is the background of the picture distracting, diminishing the visual strength of the main subject?  Quite often, a simple approach of ‘less is more’ is a great way to control the visual focal points within the photograph.  If there are lots of other items within the frame, they will usually lessen the impact of the main subject.

Clean, simple foregrounds and backgrounds usually allow for more emphasis of the main subject.  That means, the best way to create visual focal points is to isolate your subject.  It really helps when your subject is a different colour than the background.  Certain backgrounds are easier to work with.  For example, a blue sky is a definite go-to for creating visual focal points because it is a single colour and nothing else.  A dense bush might not be such a good choice because it’s a dark and complicated mix of colours.  Whatever you are photographing will need to be very bright and colourful in order for it to work.

It’s also a good idea to pay attention to the rule of thirds when you are creating visual focal points.  Simply try to place your main subject somewhere near the lower, upper, left, or right thirds of the scene.  When you do this, it tends to transform your subject into a visual focal point.

You can have as many visual focal points in your image as you want, but realize that you start to hit an upper limit after you add too many.


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Ms. R.

About Ms. R.

Danielle Rochford has been a certified teacher for over 15 years, practicing her craft with middle school students in British Columbia, Canada. She is also a self-taught landscape photographer and founder of D-Roc Photography and Design. She has spent the past five years teaching online in such areas as English, Math, and Photography. She hopes to continue sharing her expertise with others now on Udemy. Danielle encourages her students to be interactive and provides many opportunities for discussion and feedback. In her spare time, she loves to travel and enjoy the solitude of nature. You will often find her traveling through Jasper, AB on a photography adventure.

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