There is a universal ‘rule’ that photographers, film directors and artists have been using for a long time. It is called the ‘rule of thirds’, or the ‘law of thirds’. Basically, it is best to set your photographs slightly off-center. If you set your picture in the dead-center, your subject may appear dull or stagnant. Or you may get the typical driver’s license photo.
What you do is basically divide your picture into thirds both horizontally and vertically. (You should have 9 equal-sized parts.) See the grid below? Do you see where the lines intersect…where the dots are? These lines and dots are an imaginary guide to use as a way to estimate where to place your subjects. You are to place the most important feature or most of the interest of the picture on these lines/points.
I've placed the grid onto the photograph below. As you can see, the points of interest fall where they should.
Here are a few more examples:
As you can see, each child is directly in in the middle of the frame in the picture. While the photos of the kids are cute, the look rather dull and the photo itself probably doesn't 'say' much about them.
The following picture followed the "rule" and made for a much better picture. Being that there are two children in one photograph, it helps to eliminate them from being in the 'dead-center'. And now this picture tells more of a story. From the looks of it, they could be friends or even siblings.
Placing your subjects in the center makes for an awkward photograph. I cropped the first photo for effect to show the subject at dead center. The next photo was shown following the 'thirds rule' and makes for a more natural photograph. By moving your camera slightly to the left or right, you can even eliminate or add more to the background too!
By placing your subject on the imaginary 'grid', you can make for more natural and interesting pictures. Remember: think "thirds" and have fun!