Richard Prince and the Instagram explosion

I’m sure by now you have gotten some kind of word regarding the most recent Richard Prince scandal. Mr. Prince took photos from Instagram, enlarged them and then sold them for up to $100,000. Richard Prince has a long history of re-appropriation. He most notably took Marlboro adds removed the company logo and advertising information and them published the works. Some of these prints sold for $1 million dollars. Other artists with similar results have done this many times before. One very notable artist was Andy Warhol. Mr. Warhol however changed the context and turned them into his own idea. On a suggestion from a friend Warhol brought people items they saw in everyday life in a new and interesting way. Using a silk-screen process to bring us everyday items was new and out of the box thinking. Not only was it out of the box thinking it gave us a little piece of the artist without even knowing it. When Warhol’s mother was sick and in the hospital for several weeks he fondly remembered being feed a bowl of Campbell’s soup daily and ran with it. Was there a copyright violation in his works of art, I personally believe so if he had not employed such an unconventional method for producing the work. With the reproduction of the Marilyn print you got her any way you desired. Don’t like the blue Marilyn then choose the yellow, or maybe the green. Mass reproduction with an imperfect method created slight variances in all of the pieces and made them one of a kind works of personalized art.

In the case of Mr. Prince I don’t see any new or interesting way being used to produce of display the work. He is just stealing the images and using his popularity to get away with copyright violation. I would really like to see some big law firm grab onto this pro bono and run him through the ringer. I don’t believe this will happen and if it did it could go either way. Some judges may determine this to be "fair use", you can never tell. Even if Mr. Prince was found in violation of copyright it has been stated that the owners of the photos would not receive much money from the endeavor. All Richard Prince is looking for is just what he is getting, which is a lot of press. On a similar note I personally caught someone printing my work on huge posters a few years ago and selling them for something like $15 to $30 a piece. From what the printing company told me he we was doing very well at which point I identified myself as the creator of the work. I told them I would be sending them proof of my copyright as well as a letter from my attorney and they promptly hung up on me. Within minutes all of his work had been removed from their website and I sent him a DMCA letter just to let him know I was watching him and was the reason his store and income had been dissolved.

Theft of images is so commonplace now and I don’t really see a means of getting away from it. I guess as an artist you could chose not to post your work and live in a cave only coming out every few years for some fresh air but where is the fun in that. I used to watermark my photos but on the suggestion of my mentor I stopped. Even before his suggestion I felt it ruined the images even if I have a cool logo. Theft is going to happen, we just have to learn to accept it. When we become aware of it don’t blow a gasket just simply send the person a DMCA letter with a threat of further legal action if something is not done about it. In closing I would like to quote Andy Warhol in his response to a reported that asked why he re-appropriated someone else’s work, “It’s easier that way.” That is the facts of life folks. 

Thanks for your time,

JW Purdy

Response of inspiration I hope

A few weeks ago now I received a message from a photographer that had worked with my muse several years ago. Dan and experienced something that scares us all to death, hard drive failure. He wrote me asking if I still had a copy of the photos he had taken and if I could send them to him. I did have a copy and transferred them his way. In our discussion I asked him how things had been going knowing that our experience level and situation was very similar. He stated that he needed more experience and was not satisfied with the results he was achieving. I would like to share my response to him with you in hopes you might gain something from my message to him. I know this is not my regular type of post but I hope you will indulge me.


JW Purdy

Response to Dan:

All I can say is that we are very hard on ourselves as artists. Just keep on plugging away. If you look at and study many of the greats it took decades to prefect their style. I still am at the phase of watching and reading daily about photography. I shoot everyday which really helps. Books, articles and videos only go so far in your learning. I have taken a photo per day for almost two straight years now. I work more now than any other time in the past 5 years but I make myself shoot daily. Our new daily nude photo was started for this purpose. I shot daily the year before but they were not well thought out photos. I really wasn't trying if you know what I mean. I wanted to make myself work harder and be more accountable so I started the site back up and invited people to join in on the project. Go give Ted Forbes and his show "The Art of Photography" a look. It gives you a good look at many of the greats and their process of growth and the struggle they had to overcome. Everyone has to pay their dues. I am still just an amateur but am paying my dues now.

I have a wonderful mentor that has been helping me since I got started back in 08'. RJ Warren is awesome and gives me suggestions on what I should be doing next at each step of my journey. Every few years or a couple of times a year we will get together and he always gives me advise on my shooting development. He is such a great teacher and inspiration. He is a very well know fine art/figure study photographer in the Houston area and very generous with his time. I am still a long way off I feel but I am growing. All we can do as photographers is grow. I have, based on his advice, just started the next step in my growth. I can see the following step ahead but I'm not in a rush to get there. Go slow and allow time and experience to train you. Wisdom is earned and not attained in any other way. I know this message is long winded but I really want to encourage you. I think you have great potential. I also think you need to really focus on the task at hand and put in some more effort at improving you skills. Once we master the technical then we can move into showing our own voice. Find the artists that speak to you and copy them, I mean really copy them. Get everything perfect from the lighting, pose, emotion and feel of the photo. Don't worry about the set/background, since they can be very elaborate and out of our means, but get everything else exact. Once you master camera settings, pose, lighting and feel/emotion you will be ready to have people really look at your work. I know we show people our work all the time on social media groups but I mean show people with experience our work and get their feelings and input about it. They have been tested by time and reached levels we dream of reaching.

Once we master this part then we move onto attaining our own voice. We start showing people who we are with our images then we can start trying for putting our work in front of curators. I'm guessing at some of these last steps and may be leaving some out; I'm not there yet.  I have had a few gallery showings, won some awards but I think they were right time right place types of events. Identify someone you truly admire in your area and reach out to them. Most people into photography are the most generous people you will ever meet and love helping someone looking to grow. If I remember correctly you are somewhat like me and make a part of you living behind the lens. If this is the case don't let that lull you into thinking you are a master. The ability to deliver a good product to a client doesn't mean you are at the level of getting your work on a gallery wall. Being a pro-am means you have learned the business of photography and have technical skills but not necessarily a voice. In my last meeting with Mr. Warren he told me to stop taking pretty pictures and start telling stories. As pro-am's we tend to take pretty pictures but not tell stories. I am still working on the technical side while working on my story telling abilities. Again I realize I have used myself as an example a lot in this long reply but please don't take that as I'm a master but just trying to convey where I am in the journey. Keep putting in the hard work and it will pay off in the long run. Let me know when you want to get together and we can get something worked out.

Best wishes,

JW Purdy

Fired for amateur modeling completed as a college student.

I submitted a reply to an article I read today in which a teacher was fired from her job due to some amateur model she had done in the past. Please heed my words near the end of my response. Thank you JW Purdy

This doesn't just happen to teachers. I lost a very large banking client due to a web search many years ago. I was receiving a lot of work from them and then it just stopped. I contacted the person in charge of my account and she started looking at my account status to get some clue why I wasn't getting any more work. In the recent notes on my account, a web researcher in India had found my name associated with a nude photo site. The site was indeed my personal website confirmed by the listed URL she gave me. I asked the contact why my hobby caused me to lose them as a client and she had no response. I did receive an official reply from the company weeks later stating that they did not want to be associated with a deviant. A deviant, really, are you kidding me. My site is very professional looking in my opinion and I shoot fine art. I have been mentored by one of the best fine art photographers in Houston. Due to this lost client I changed my working name to my initials and have never looked back. I highly recommend both photographers and models to use pen-names for their figure work just to protect their online reputation. Companies are really starting to use the internet to research every detail of your life before working with you, be careful. Thanks for posting this article.

Golden mean in Fine Art Nude figure study photos

Golden mean (Golden ratio)

Definition: The golden ratio which is also known as the divine proportion, golden mean or golden section is often encountered when taking the ratios of distances in simple geometric figures such as pentagons, pentagrams, decagons, etc. This is the mathematical definition.

In photography the principle behind the golden mean rule is to provide geometric lines which can be followed when viewing a composition. This rule has been used as a major guideline by many artists and it wouldn’t do you any harm as a modern photographer.

History of Golden Mean

Going back to the 12 century, which was the golden age for mathematics, is the era in which the golden mean was developed or invented. All the credit goes to an Italian gentleman known as Fibonacci. So, how does mathematics and photography relate to each other? The one thing keeping these two as relatives is composition. Fibonacci discovered the Golden ratio or Divine proportion from his mathematical studies. It is kind of weird that the main source of this discovery was the breeding habits of rabbits. What he noted was that the ratio he had discovered with the rabbits was applying in most of the aspects in nature. This ratio is 1.61803:1.

As photographers, when we are shooting pictures our eyes are naturally accustomed to seeing the divine proportion. However, if we break this natural ratio the image will appear uncomfortable to our eyes. Rule of thirds is one of the most common techniques in the world of photography – though it is not entirely a Fibonacci rule. It works in such a manner which is very close to the divine proportion. However, if you wish to take your compositions you can apply the Golden mean rule, Golden Rectangle or Golden Spiral.

The Golden Rectangle

It is very similar to the rule of thirds. The difference between the two is that; in the rule of thirds each third is at an equal distance to each other while in the Golden rectangle Fibonacci ratio is used to determine the distance between them. To expand on this statement, if we split our image into three using vertical lines, the distance of the first line from the left in comparison to the second line will be at a ratio 1.618:1. Therefore, the outer boxes will always be larger than the inner boxes. A better composition would be achieved if we use the intersection points of these rectangles. Practically, this might appear a little complicated but when you are shooting you can simply visualize the image on the regular thirds, then simply move those thirds a little more to the center.

The Golden Spiral

This is a very powerful composition rule but is more complex. It uses the principle of increasing the size of a series of boxes using the Golden ratio. The origin or focal point of the composition begins at the corner of the smallest rectangle. A spiral is usually visualized moving out from the smallest box intersecting through the larger boxes and stops at the corner of the largest box. From the intersecting nature of the spiral intersecting through the rectangles creates an appealing image which gives our eyes an easy time in flowing through the image. As stated, this can be quite hard to visualize while shooting a photo but once you locate the primary object, the rest is just a piece of cake.

The Golden Triangle

This is a very important compositional guideline which comes in handy if your photograph has strong diagonal objects. Here you will only need to split your photo into three triangles which have the same angles. The Golden Triangle is very simple and is most efficient with lines.

One diagonal line will pass across the frame from one corner to the next. Another diagonal line will be created from one of the other two diagonals to intersect with the first diagonal.

What makes the Golden mean better than rule of thirds?

The rule of thirds is the most applied rule in photography and it is taken as a manifestation of the Golden Ratio. It is usually claimed that the Rule of Thirds was invented to make it easier for photographers to locate the sweet spot – the eye-catching point.

Even though the rule of thirds works well in most of the situations, the Golden Ratio can offer a better composition. This is simply because it creates a more balanced image.

Take a situation in which you wish to shoot a landscape photo. In most cases, when you use the Rule of Thirds certain elements like the horizon will be left in an awkward position. By simply dividing the frame into thirds will imply that placing the horizon line will be too straight forward. However, with the Golden Ratio the balance will frequently appear more natural and less static.

Composing for the Golden Ratio

The easiest way in which you can compose an image and apply the Golden Spiral is by imagining a small rectangle from one corner of your frame and then bisect it from one corner to another in such a way that an imaginary diagonal line crosses your frame. This line will touch some of the focal points of the Fibonacci Spiral within the rectangle.

You can always perfect your composition by using software such as Adobe Light-room during post processing. This software has a wide range of crop overlays and one of the crops called Golden Spiral is based on the Fibonacci Spiral.


As a photographer it is very important for you to know what makes a photo appealing to the eyes and strong. There are many things which you should have at your fingertips when shooting. Some of them include; color, lighting, shape, composition and more. Therefore, it takes a variety of aspects in creating a fascinating image but if your main concern is just one aspect you can always use the Golden Ratio. Note: There are no strict rules in photography, there are only guidelines to help you become the best photographer. 


Go over your portfolio and look for examples of the Golden mean in your current work. In the situation of a very powerful image you have taken that does not appear to follow basic rules of composition you may be surprised to find that it fits into the use of Golden Mean.


In this example Shannon’s head is in the first lower left section. The next section moving up and to the right contains her left breast and is completed by the junction of her thigh and torso. The final section moving in the same direction is filled with Shannon’s thigh, which travels the length of the final section ending at her knee.

Use of negative space in Fine Art Nude Figure Study

Use of Negative Space in Photography

What is negative space?

Negative space refers to the area between or around objects in a photo. It is mainly important if you wish to get a clear visualization of shapes and sizes more effectively hence producing more composed images.

To be more precise, negative space is the area, which surrounds the main object in your photo. On the other hand, the positive space is the main object in your photo. Taking a photo in which the main objects are power lines, the negative space is the sky while the positive space is the power lines.

The negative space is important in a photo since not only defines the main object but also emphasizes it thereby drawing it to the eye. It provides the ‘breathing space’ hence giving your eyes somewhere to rest – this prevents the photo from appearing congested.

How to use the negative space  

Negative space can give your photograph an entirely opposite atmosphere than another photo of the same object. The simple explanation for this is that our brains will always have lots of ideas of how objects appear to our eyes especially in terms of size, shape, color, texture, etc. The bad news is that these ideas alter how we view a scene. Therefore, photos can look better in our minds while in reality they are not that appealing.

By using the negative space in photography we can overcome these problems. How? By ignoring the objects at the scene and focusing on the gaps between and around them. This will enable you to pay more attention to your composition hence seeing the shapes and sizes more clearly.

When you are shooting, you should always adjust your composition until the positive and negative spaces in the frame feel balanced. Don’t be mean on the amount of empty space you will be leaving out. It is not always a good idea to cram in something, which you feel is important to every inch of the photo frame.

You can always use software like Photoshop or Light-room to experiment on different types of crops. You will be amazed how small changes may give a significant change on the appearance of an image.

In addition, the negative space also leaves a very nice area, which can be filled with texts without interfering with the main object.

Importance of Negative Space 

The negative space can change the mood of an image. The mood refers to the emotion and the negative space is what creates them. The negative space can:

·      Act as a context

·      Create a sense of lightness

·      Can create airiness

·      Strengthen the positive emotions in a photograph.

·      Bring out the feelings of your main object – can be romantic or just happy.

·      Also add sad feelings like loneliness or despair.

Therefore, whichever message you wish to send out to your viewers, be it feelings or emotions, whichever story you wish to share, the negative space will play a huge role in this. When used correctly it can emphasize these aspects otherwise, everything can turn around.

In basic drawing classes students are usually told that there are three basic elements of a composition: The Frame, the positive space and negative space.

Of the three elements, the positive space is the easiest to understand since it the space occupied by your object. Contrary to that, the negative space is the one which is not occupied by the main object. I wish it were that easy to understand. The negative space is usually defined by the edges of the positive space and the frame. In other cases, the negative space may be completely bound by the positive space.

As a reminder, composition will always be best if there is a balance between the negative and positive. The frame is the main factor which controls the balance between the positive and negative space. When drawing, the frame is usually represented by the edge of the paper while in a camera it is the edge of the viewfinder. Therefore, the viewfinder is what gives the definition to our composition. Composition is therefore a skilled use of positive and negative spaces interacting with the edges of your work. It has effects which are noticeable by the viewer’s eye. You should know that the main objective of a good composition is to control your viewer’s eye. You want him or her to notice the things which are not straightforward.

Most photographers tend to put more focus on the positive space while the negative space comes just like an afterthought. From what we have discussed above, you will not neglect the negative space while shooting.

Benefits of using negative space in photos

1.     The negative space helps in molding and emphasizing the positive space. Here, you should also know that there are two kinds of negative space – the macro and micro negative spaces. The macro negative space defines the space between major elements while the latter defines space between smaller elements.

2.     It guides the viewer’s eye to where you want it to be. This way you can communicate your message effectively.

3.     It brings out the mood of the photo.

4.     In design, if there is insufficient negative space the photo might appear overcrowded and at times very complex.

How can we create a better negative space?

First, you can always make a better art with the negative space. For instance, the sky can provide a good composition when shooting from the bottom of buildings.

Secondly, you make the negative space the subject and this way you will not distract the main subject.

Third, you can use the positive space to define the negative space. Take a look at the Rubin’s vase to get a clear understanding on this.

Fourth, you can always use negative space to create logo designs.


It is always easy for us to focus on the main subject of the photograph. However, the negative space is a very powerful tool in each photo as it is the one which will bring out the core message of mood of the image.


Think of items of interest you can include in your framing of a photo other than the subject that will add to your composition or lead your viewer through the photo. As you practice this make sure that you don’t allow the items in the negative space to become to cluttered, too many objects in your photo will just confuse your audience and muddy your photo composition.  


In the example below I have used the shadow cast by Shannon’s figure to add interest to the negative space. Shannon is indeed the subject of the photo however the silhouette on the wall features her prominent curves and grabs the viewer’s eye. Shannon added emphasis to the shadow by pointing to it as well as looking over her shoulder. The viewer’s eye is lead straight to the negative part of the image.  

Just a quick final item to talk about, I have added a set from our “My Nude Year” project to my store and it is available for download. Your kind purchase makes it possible for me to continue bringing you content on a regular basis. If you enjoy my blog please considered purchasing the set.

Thank you,

JW Purdy

Diagonal Method in Fine Art Nude Photography

Diagonal Composition

What is diagonal composition?

It is a color photograph bringing out the details of an interior. A good example is where the majority of Wall’s images are displayed in a light box. Diagonal composition represents a well-balanced for dynamically intersecting parallel and diagonal lines. This is a results of viewing and framing an object from a particular angle.

History of diagonal composition

It is important to note that diagonal composition is not a contrived theory but is a discovery. Diagonal method (DM) was accidentally discovered in May 2006 by Edwin Westhoff who was a Dutch photographer and teacher. This beautiful accident occurred when he was doing research on the composition known as ‘rule of thirds’. Therefore, the diagonal composition is not derived from the Golden section of Rule of thirds.

This method of composition is very simple in application; when using it, you can bisect each 90 degree corner of the frame thereby giving you two 45 degree angles. The dividing line is called a bisection line. Most artists will often place the important details in their frames on these lines of with a deviation of 1-1.5 millimeters. This method is called diagonal composition since the lines are mathematical and they overlap the squares in the rectangles. By following the bisection lines, viewers will tend to look at the pictures just as the artist did when capturing it.

It is possible to crop the photos later in such a way that the important details are placed near to the diagonal lines. This can be easily achieved by using the crop tool called ‘Diagonal’ in Adobe Light-room or Adobe Photoshop CS6. Most people say that by using the Diagonal Composition their photography work has become a lot better. This doesn’t apply only to the composition but also to how easy the viewer immediately grasps the important parts of the picture.

Basic Steps of Applying the Diagonal Rule

In diagonal method, one side of the frame or picture is divided into two and then each half is divided into three parts. Later, the adjacent side is divided in such a way that the lines connecting the generated points will form a diagonal frame. From the rule, the important elements of the object should lie along these diagonal lines. Linear elements like roads, waterways, fences which are placed diagonally will always appear more dynamic than those which are placed horizontally.

There are 3 types of lines in the Diagonal method:

·      The horizontal line

·      The vertical line

·      The diagonal line

The above lines have their degrees of intensity. Let us address each of them:

1.    The Horizontal Line

This is the least dynamic line of the three and has the least intensity. This is simply because it is stable and secure. Naturally, the horizontal line is flat. For example, anything in nature which is in a horizontal position, like a tree trunk lying flat on the ground, is usually unshakable or solid. It won’t go anywhere.

2.    The Vertical Line

Unlike the horizontal line, the vertical line is less secure hence more dynamic. Picture a tree which is just about to topple over. This line goes up straight and down – this makes it less balanced.

3.    The Diagonal Line

Of the three lines, this is the most dynamic. Anything in nature which is in a diagonal position is usually about to topple over.

This leads us to the next topic:

Technical Explanation of Diagonal Method

Take the 35 mm photographic frame which is usually a rectangle with a 2:3 ratio. It is possible to draw two squares which overlap each other from the rectangle. After drawing the squares, you should make your diagonal line from one corner to the next.

The next step will be drawing the reciprocal line through the diagonal line. This line should be perpendicular to the diagonal line – this means it will cut the diagonal at 90 degrees angle. (You now get to know why geometry classes are taught at schools). You will notice that there are four 90 degree angles which will of course add up to 360 degrees. This implies that the important element will be around a circular region at the point of intersection.

There are three types of diagonal lines

In photography there are three different types of diagonal lines:

·      Objects which are placed diagonally

·      Actual diagonal lines

·      Diagonal lines which are created by the view point.

The last type from the list is the one which you will be most conversant with in the field of photography. For instance, instead of shooting the photo of a street in Vegas straight from the face-on point of view, you can shoot it from the side.

What makes the diagonal lines very important to photographers?

A majority of photographers use the diagonal lines so as to guide the eye of the viewer to a certain point in the frame. If you take a diagonal line and point it in the direction with a particular object, the tension which will be created draws the eye to it.

In addition, the diagonal lines created from viewpoint have a diminishing effect on a photo as they create a sense of depth in it.

Photographers will also use diagonal lines in artificial objects like constructions so as to add contrast and dynamic tension.

Diagonal lines will also add the unstable nature in some photos. For instance, when taking shots of buildings, you can always use diagonal lines to bring out the un-stability as most buildings will tend to appear stable in nature.

General Tips for Beginners

·      Always hold your camera at the main object’s level. Take some time before you start taking photos from above or below objects.

·      The main source of light should always be behind you and not between you and the object.

·      When taking a picture of a light object use a dark background and vice versa. This will reduce the flare effect on the picture.

·      Don’t be afraid of breaking photography rules.

·      In moving objects, always capture them in such a way that a lot of space is in front of them rather than behind them.


As you go through this day, be it at work or at home, look for examples of the diagonal method in everyday life. Be able to identify its presents in your worldview and as you do you will begin to train your eye to compose more compelling photos. Get in the habit of seeing things as if you were looking in the viewfinder of your camera. If you can do this at lease one day a week for an hour of so you skills will improve and you will become a better artist.


This is a powerful example of the diagonal method. In this photo of models Zinn Star and Ellen Marisa there are many lines and angles for you eye to explore however the most dominant lines fall within the diagonal method. The first and most striking line is that of model Ellen Marisa’s body. This line starts at her shoulder, which features her hand over Zinn Star’s hand. This line runs down her body through her nipple and continues to the bottom right corner of the frame. The second most prominent line is the line that travels along Zinn Star’s sight line. The line starts at Ellen’s extended leg and runs through Zinn’s ear and continues to the top left corner of the frame. 

Rule of Thirds in Fine Art Nude photography

Rule of thirds

When it comes to photography, the rule of thirds is applied in such a manner that you will be aligning the subject with the help of guidelines and their intersection points, placing the horizon on the top or bottom line or allowing linear features in the image to flow from one section to the other. The rule of thirds is the most popular principle in photography composition. In most photography classes, this is probably the first principle which digital photographers will learn as it forms the base for capturing well-balanced and interesting shots.

What does rule of thirds state?

The rule of thirds states that – An image is most appealing to the eyes when its subjects or regions are composed along imaginary lines which divide the image into thirds (should be both vertically and horizontally).

It is interesting that the rule appears to be mathematical and can still be applied in photographs. Surprisingly, this rule works incredibly well. The rule of thirds makes the shots appear more engaging as it brings out the aesthetic features of the subject by:

·      Creating a sense of balance

·      Doesn’t make the image appear too static

·      Adding a sense of complexity

·      Hinders the image from appearing too busy.


Let us review a little history on rule of thirds:

The rule of thirds has been around for a long time and it can be traced back to the 1800’s. During this era, painting was the most popular form of art. The rule of thirds was known as golden mean especially when the Greeks were exploring the world and building extraordinary temples to please their gods.

Components of the Rule of Thirds

Without some certain elements, you will be applying another rule rather than the ‘rule of thirds’. The most important components of rule of thirds include:

  • 9 Equal Boxes
  • 4 Intersecting Points
  • 2 Horizontal Lines
  • 2 Vertical Lines


Rule of Thirds and Your Subject

In the rule of thirds, you should always place the important components of your subject or image at intersecting points. Your main objects may be people, buildings, animals and more. By doing so, your image will be well balanced and your viewers will easily move through your image. The rule of thirds is based off a subconscious movement throughout the image or artwork in such a way that the viewer’s eye pauses longer at one of the four intersecting corners rather than at other areas. For instance, the Modern dSLR cameras often show the grid view on the back display of ‘live mode’ camera. In addition, you can activate a similar grid using Adobe Light-room and Adobe Photoshop.

The theory behind rule of thirds is that by placing the points of interest in the intersections or along the lines, your photo will be more balanced and the viewer of the image will engage with it naturally. From previous studies, it was proved that most viewer’s eyes will go to one of the intersection points rather than at the center of the shot. Therefore, when using the rule of thirds, you should always think about the important elements of the picture and try to position them near the lines or intersections. They don’t have to be perfectly aligned but should be close.

Examples of rule of thirds:

The rule of thirds is very flexible and it can be used on almost any object. Here are some good examples of where it can be used and how to apply it:

1.     In landscape photos: In most cases photographers will position the horizon along the center of the frame. This will give the photo a ‘split into two’ feel. Instead you should place it along the horizontal lines. If there are interesting objects in the photo, you should try to place them along the intersecting lines or as close as possible since they will act as anchors from a natural point of view.

2.     When capturing shots of people: It is always smart to place people off to one side of the frame as this shows the subject’s environment and ‘breathing space’. Without any doubt, we are usually drawn to people’s eyes hence they should be placed at the intersection lines of the rule of thirds. This will give the shot a vivid focal point.

3.     Vertical objects: Let us say you want to take a shot on a lighthouse. The best way to go about this is by positioning the object at off-center of your frame.

4.     Moving objects: In moving objects such as a rider on a horse or a biker, it is important to place them as normal as they appear while at the same time paying attention to the direction they are moving. You should always leave more space in front of them rather than behind.

How can we improve our photos?

The best and most efficient way for a beginner to improve the quality of the shots taken is by cropping. By using cropping software, we will be able to reposition the important objects in your photo. Software such as Photoshop and Light-room can come in handy as they have crop guide overlays which include the rule of thirds option. As you get better your need to crop photos in postproduction will decrease. Strive to get as much right in your viewfinder before you push the shutter release on your camera and your ability to see the world in terms of composition will greatly improve as well as the quality of your photos.


In very rare cases we will find an image in which we cannot apply rule of thirds. In such cases, we might give the photo a sense of balance without making the subject appear too static.

Breaking the Rule of Thirds

Rules are made to be broken. That’s what they say from where I come from. Just like other rules in photography, the rule of thirds will not apply in all situations. Therefore, by breaking it on some shots might results in a more eye-catching and interesting photo. But you should fully understand the rule of thirds before breaking it. This way you will be certain of what you are doing while trying to get a better composition. Try breaking the rules on some of the photos you have captured using the rule of thirds and compare the two.


Plan a day of shooting when you have a little free time, if you have only a little time available just work around you house. Find a subject that you have shot or want to shoot. Now as you start to work keep in mind the Rule of Thirds. If you are working with landscape try placing the horizon on the bottom third, top third and then just in the center of the frame. If you have a specific subject you are working with try moving the camera so that the subject falls on each line as well as intersecting lines of the Rule of Thirds. When you get back to your computer download the images and really take a close look at each one until you narrow the field of photos to one. Finally, ask yourself what makes this the best photo. Now you are not only using the Rule of Thirds but also learning how to apply it in a practical real world situation.


In the photo below you will notice that model Zeva has been placed on the left third of the frame. I also placed the rough building skyline on the top third of the frame creating a stronger composition. With regard to the bottom third being located near Zeva’s bottom and the top of the brick she was sitting on was just luck. As you get better at working with the Rule of Thirds you will find that utilizing two of the dividing lines strengthens you composition like in this example. I did break one Rule of Composition in this photo as Zeva is facing away from the negative space in the photo. I find this personally appealing and think it adds some tension to the otherwise beautiful scene. Some people would completely disagree and tell you that by breaking this rule I ruined an otherwise good photo. As stated above, break the rules while following them to suit your own taste. I would however recommend learning the rules before you start to try and break them.

Please come back next week for another video review and discussion.

JW Purdy


New series starts Monday the 23rd

Good night everyone,

I just wanted to let you know that on Monday March 23, 2015 I will be started a new series on composition technique. The series will last four weeks and be posted every other Monday. On the bi weeks I will be posting the video reviews similar to my last post. Your comment and suggestion are greatly appreciated.

Thank you,

JW Purdy

Organic nude in New Mexico

Good morning everyone,

I am happy to have a little time to finish our discussion on Shannon Purdy’s first shoot in the mountains of New Mexico. In this last photo we will cover a few different elements of composition present.  

Principals of composition: The first element of composition I would like to talk about is the strong presents of the diagonal rule. As you can see by my overlay, Shannon’s figure as well as the tree to the right of the frame both follow the diagonal lines and are located on the thirds of the divided frame.

would also like to point out the second element of composition in this photo. Many of you have already seen it, having read my previous posts; Shannon breasts are located on the left Rule of Thirds line as well as the bottom third line. She has been positioned on a Golden section of the photo giving the viewer a sense of peace in the photo.

The final element I would like to talk about today is the Golden Spiral. My overlay is not exactly prefect but you can see that with a slight shift of the spiral Shannon’s figure makes up the extent of this very strong element of composition. The Golden Spiral is a principal of composition we see in nature all the time. It is very appealing to our eye and draws us into a photo. An example of a Golden Spiral in nature would be a flower with all of the pedals opening in a pattern being displayed very close up. I’m sure at some point you have seen one of these photos and really thought it was a good photo.

Notes of this photo: In your photos try and find creative uses for negative space. As you have seen in this photo I utilized the tree to fill the negative space and due to the angle of the trunk was able to strengthen my composition. This pose is very organic and based on the surrounds it would have made a powerful image without the tree having been there; however, taking a minute to look at our surroundings we can find something that may enhance our photos. It only takes a few seconds and will get you in the habit of being more observant and will improve your photography skills in the long run.

Thanks for reading everyone. Sorry my posts have been off a little later than I have wanted lately. We have really been working on the "My Nude Year" project. It has been fun but it is also very time consuming. 


See you next time and until then,

Figure it out JW Purdy

First YouTube post is up

Hi everyone,

I finally did it and put my first Youtube post up. I had to make a video for a Kickstarter project and figured it would make a good introduction. Please tell me what you think. 

Also you can view our project by going to

Thank you,

JW Purdy

Balancing Shannon on the mountain

This is another photo from Shannon’s first shoot in the mountains of New Mexico.

Principals of composition: In this photo we see another example of the Golden mean. You will notice with the lines I have overlaid on the photo that Shannon’s bottom is in the first section of the lower frame ending just at her lower back. The next section contains the majority of Shannon’s mid/lower back and is sectioned off by her right arm and left shoulder. The final portion of the image contains Shannon’s upper back and head.

Notes on this image: Elements you want to appear larger in your photograph should be placed closer to your camera lens. In this example I wanted to show off Shannon’s beautiful backside and therefore it has been placed nearest to the camera lens. This photo was somewhat of a miss due to the low amount of lighting on my subject. The difference in texture is very nice as well as the contrast in shape but the overall lighting makes for a less powerful image.    

We are getting close to the end of the month and I’m working on a couple of different new tasks. I will be sending out my newsletter at the end of the month and encourage you to sign up.

Next week we will be discussing a photo in which Shannon bravely started to scale the coal tailings in the driving wind. I will be discussing the diagonal method as well as contrast in texture and color.

If you haven’t already signed up for my newsletter please take the time to give me a little info about you. You can find my sign up by going here Spring is almost here and my first giveaway is drawing closer as the days pass.   

Thank you and see you next time,

JW Purdy