There is one pinnacle rule when it comes to framing and cropping an image. If you have ever taken an art class then you have probably heard of the rule of thirds. This is a method used for centuries to draw your eye to the subject of your image (or painting). My favorite thing to do with the rule of thirds is to break it. However, I do more often then not, apply the rule of thirds to the pictures I take. And I urge you to use and practice this rule before ever attempting to break it. I shot everything on the thirds for years to make sure I had the basics down. You have to know the rules before you can break them
In the first image I followed the rule of thirds, the whipped cream falls just on that sweet spot. The second, I broke it, centered the subject. With the last I played with edge tension, cropping in a unexpected way.
Here is the main idea between the rule of thirds. For some reason our eyes are drawn to things that are resting on the thirds on the picture. If you drew a tic-tac-toe board where the lines would intersect is the “sweet spot”. That’s where your eye wants to see things. It can be subtle, maybe that’s just where you focused, or it could be obvious, the whole frame is empty except for the dish that is smack on that intersection of thirds.
Here is what thirds looks like, see where the lines intersect? That’s the “sweet spot”.
Once you have mastered the basics of using the rule of thirds it’s so fun to break that mold and start messing around with different framing. Centering your subject is modern and unexpected.
Another fun way to break out of the box is to use edge tension. I tend to use this more in other fields of photography, less so in food photography. But, it can be effective when shooting food. Recently this has become a huge trend in photographs, leaving “negative space” around your subject, and using funky cropping. Mess around with different framing, sometimes edge tension and negative space totally works, other times it looks totally cheesy. Negative space is great when you need to add text to your images too. If you’re planning on adding text to your image, you need to use negative space to avoid crowding the image.
When you’re first starting out, I would recommend that you stick to the traditional rules, such as the the rule of thirds. Once you master those try edge tension, and use negative space! Don’t break the rules until you have earned the right to do so by mastering the rules.