Photography Elements With Steve McCurry

Three elements for improving photography are the rule of thirds, leading lines, and depth of field. The elements help photos to become something more than just a basic snapshot. The examples used in this post are photos taken by Steve McCurry and myself. Steve McCurry is a well-known photographer whose work is featured in magazines around the world, the National Geographic being an example of one. His photos mostly focus on war and the consequences of it. More of his work which follow the elements can be found on his official website.

Rule of Thirds

Photo by Steve McCurry –

The rule of thirds brings out the subjects of the picture. It also aligns the subjects in the picture, making the picture more pleasing to the eye. In this example, the lines intersect on the chair and the girl showing that they are important. This particular element balances out the picture by having the girl be on one side and the cat be on the other.

Photo by McKell Hancock

In this example, the orange bowling is intersected by two lines. The ball becomes the focus point of the picture and not only for its bright colors but also how it is aligned. The bowling pins are also aligned along the lines.

Leading Lines

Photo by Steve McCurry –

This photo has a sense of direction drawing the viewer’s eyes in. All the lines lead to the focus in the middle to where the girl is going. She also acts as a leading line because the direction she is going. Because the photo draws the viewer in, the viewer may feel as though they are in the picture following behind the girl, down the tracks.

Photo by McKell Hancock

All the lines lead to the focus which is the girl in the blue. The stairs also follow in the same direction as the lines. It draws the viewer in like the example photo by Steve McCurry. The photo is also very symmetrical making the lines more noticeable or defined.

Depth of Field

Photo by Steve McCurry –

When depth of field is used in a photo, there is no denying what the focus is. The man in Steve McCurry’s photo almost pops off the page. Depth of field also gives perspective. It shows that some objects are close and some are farther away. It creates an interesting background for the viewer’s eye to look at instead of just a plain background.

Photo by McKell Hancock

Depth of field can bring out detail of the object being shown. The lines on the flower may not have been as noticeable if the image wasn’t so focused on it. The color of the flower pops and is more defined because it is focused so closely focused on it.

Using these three elements of photography: rule of thirds, leading lines, and depth of field, can make a photo more pleasing to the viewer’s eye. It will also give the viewer more to look at than just an object. One of the goals of photography is to get the viewer thinking about the image. These elements can turn a simple photo into a work of art.


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