Monday, March 18, 2013

Photography: The Rule of Thirds

(c) 2013 by Tom King

Courtesy of Glenn Sackett Photography
If there is one thing Adventist men should know how to do it is handle a camera.  One of our most critical jobs is to lift up our spouses, our families, our churches and particularly the young people in the church.  Our role is one of "appreciator".  There is no more powerful thing church men can do than to stand by, to notice things that others do well and to express our appreciation for whatever it is they are doing.

Psychologist say that if you want to reinforce good behavior, the best way is to notice it and to let the person committing said good behavior know that you have noticed.  I'm not talking about empty praise either.  That can be worse than ineffective as a tool for getting someone to repeat his good behavior - especially when you are dealing with kids.  Tell a child he is a good boy or good girl and they will almost immediately do something rotten to prove you wrong.  They know better.  If anyone knows they are a sinful creature, it's a child.

Instead, the way to properly praise a child is by being specific rather than general in your praise.  Praise only the act, not the actor.  And in that praise tell the person what the act of goodness meant to you.  For instance, don't tell a child he is a "good artist" when looking at a painting he has done.  Tell him, instead what you like about the picture.  Like this:
  • I like the colors you used in that picture.
  • I like the way you set the tree off-center like that.....very creative.
  • I could almost eat that apple, it looks so delicious.
Stuff like that.  When a child does something good, like helping you clean up the Primary Sabbath School room after class.  Be specific.  Don't say, "What a good girl you are!"  Instead say things like this:
  • Boy, I really appreciate your help today.  
  • I don't think I could have done this by myself.
  • Wow, thanks to you I will get to hear the special music today.
  • This really looks better.  You did a terrific job and you're so quick. 
Specific praise and especially the kind that lets them know you value what they did is the best.

But what does that have to do with the rule of thirds.  Just this.  Photographs are a wonderful way to say, "I noticed what your did."  or "I value you and think you are special."  Post them on the church website, or create a blog for your youth group and post lots and lots of pictures of the kids doing things for the church and for each other and for people around them.  Get their camping trips and hikes on film and don't just stick the pictures in a box or store them on your computer.  Make slide shows to show during the intermission between Sabbath School and Church.  If you want to get people into the pews quickly after Sabbath School, project pictures of themselves and their kids doing church activities.  It's a very powerful tool.  Illustrate everything with pictures of church members doing good things - bulletins, brochures, the church newsletter.

And with the new digital photography making great pictures is easier than it has ever been before.  We are no longer forced to struggle with film speed, shutter speeds, F-stops and darkroom techniques.  With the new digital cameras, even the simple ones adjust for light, movement in the frame, color and focusing automatically or with a few easy to learn control buttons.  Anybody can produce remarkably crisp and clear photographs these days.

So it all comes down to composition in the end and the Rule of Thirds is the end-all be-all of composition. You can violate the rule of thirds, but you better have a reason to do so and a plan or the picture will just be dull and uninteresting.

Click on this link to go to my How-To weblog piece on the Rule of Thirds.  In just minutes you will learn the secret to producing great pictures AND you'll have a useful skill that you can bring to virtually every church activity that comes along.

Don't let your church hide its light under a bushel.  Help shine it everywhere by turning your camera on the good things your church does.

Tom King
Click on this link to read  "Photography:  The Rule of Thirds" on HowdyaDewit.

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