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Golden Rules of Photography: Family Science Spotlight

Try this hands-on science experiment to learn about the golden rules of photography and improve your photo compositions.

Golden rules of photography example

When you take a photo, do you put the subject right in the center? What happens to the same photo if you move the subject to the right of the frame, or to the left? These are questions a photographer asks herself every time she gets ready to snap a photo. Where should the subject "go" in the frame? In making this decision, a photographer decides upon the "composition" of the photo. Does the composition matter? Are there formulas or guidelines that can help you take the best photos?

In this family science activity, families can explore by examining popular photographs and seeing if they use either the rule of thirds or the golden ratio. Are there commonalities in the photos you like best? After examining "great" photographs, you may discover that the way you position the subject in a photo within the frame of the camera makes a difference in how well the photo "works" for a viewer—or how "pleasing" the photo is to the eye.

Explore composition and the "golden rules" of photography with one of these science projects or activities:

Extend the Fun

After looking at and talking about examples of photos from professional photographers, put these principles to the test with your own photos! If you are using a digital camera, you can easily take photos of the same subject with the subject placed in varying locations within the frame. Pull the photos up on a computer and see which ones you like best. Do the ones that work best follow one of the golden rules?

After doing this family science photography activity, you may never want to center a subject in a photo again!

Making Connections

Students and families can continue the exploration of photography and camera-related science with the following projects and resources:

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Free science fair projects.