the idea of r-o-t is to compose your photos so that the subject IS NOT perfectly centred. your photo will be more interesting or appealing if you place the subject or the focal point of your photo at one of the cross points.
here is an example of a photo I took recently. you can see the difference in the appeal of the second photo where the subject’s eyes are at the top third line.
when you have a close up photo (which are my favorites, by the way) the photo is much more appealing when the subject’s eyes are at the top third line. this can result in some of the head being cut off, but it is worth it to have such a beautiful close up shot of your child.
here is another close-up example using another photo. again, the second shot is much more appealing. using r-o-t in this way gives you more negative space in your photo, which as you may have noticed is part of my style. i love the way your eyes are drawn right to the subject’s in this photo.
you can use r-o-t to compose your shots ‘in camera’ (i.e. as you are taking the shot) – check the setting on your camera, you may be able to show the grid lines right on your LCD display. or, you can wait to do it when you are cropping and printing your photos. if you use photoshop, go to edit – preferences – guides, grids & slices: choose a colour, set the gridline every 33.3 percent and subdivisions 1. when you have a photo open click ctrl + ’ to make your gridlines appear. click it again and they disappear.
by the way, I tend to do the latter – if you have had a session with me you will notice on your photo cd that the unedited shots are pretty centred with room to zoom in. this allows me to crop the photos specifically to order (as 4x6, 5x7, 8x10 prints). so while you may be happy enough with your unedited shots this is one good reason to order prints from me or to learn a few tricks for cropping your own photos effectively.
we have a tendency to want everything to be very centred when we take photos or order prints, but this does not always create the best photo. and this ‘rule’ works for any type of photograph – not just portraits of children. of course, rules are made to be broken, there are times when a centred photo works better! by playing with r-o-t you just might learn more about what you like, and get some better shots in the process. have fun =)