Rules, schmules… Well, artists love to toss any rules impressed upon them out the window when it comes to creativity and creating something unique, out-of-the-box, and of their vision. Some photographers and videographers feel that rules are too restrictive. However, being a professional videographer or photographer, if you are trying to control the visual messages your video is sending, you do need to have an understanding of all the traditional rules of composition. Centuries ago, artists curated certain rules that guided them when painting or positioning objects in a rectangular frame to have the best results. They also discovered that certain placements were more pleasing and that the eye was drawn to some areas of the canvas more readily! Check out this blog and find out 5 important videography rules that every videographer should know and should not break in order to have the best results.


Rule of Thirds

Well, an offshoot of all those artistic rules used in still photography and in videography is called the rule of thirds. It is one of the most basic and well-known cardinal rules. As per the rule of thirds, being a photographer or videographer, you should mentally divide the frame (what exactly you get to see in the viewfinder) into thirds, both horizontally and vertically. If you ask us, you will get what looks like a tic-tac-toe board overlaying your screen. When you are all set to shoot this video, and as per this rule, you should always place your key subject elements along those lines to have the best outcome. Where these lines intersect makes an ideal spot for you to put your subject. This simply means that centering your subject while keeping it in the frame will create a less interesting composition. Well, in most cases, you will have control over where you are with your camera.

In the rule of thirds, when framing your subject, make sure you are moving your camera so that the prominent subject elements fall along with one of the third lines, preferably at a point where those lines intersect. Doing this and applying the rule of thirds will definitely offer some really great stills along with amazing professional videos. If by any chance you can’t move the camera to a good spot, then you must try moving the subject (kind of a bit complicated if you are shooting outdoors on a mountain). In this case, you must consider placing your subject element in point, which would be the placement of the horizon line in an outdoor shot. Don’t center the horizon on your screen. Just place the horizon on either the top or bottom of the third line for the best results. Which one will completely depend upon your subject? If you are shooting your client on a sailboat on the ocean, depending upon the requirements of your client, what they want as a result. Do they want more of the ocean in their videos or more of the sky? Capturing the best of the ocean or sky in the most charismatic frames will be your artistic choice. All you have to do is to take control of the situation and try to frame the most appealing shot that your clients would love that moment they will see it. Don’t just accept whatever happens to appear in your viewfinder! In short, use the rule of thirds in your videography, and allow the negative space to help you place your subject in the frame for the best results!

180 Degree Rule

Another good degree rule of photography and videography that every professional photographer needs to keep in mind is that it involves filming the interaction of characters. This is where the 180 Degree Rule comes into play. This rule of photography and videography helps photographers to establish continuity between shots, making this one of the most important rules of composition when it comes to videography. Videographers need to remember that when filming opposite angles, the camera should only shoot from one side of the line and never cross the 180-degree line to film the other angle. If you don’t follow this rule of videography or photography, there are more chances that the characters will look the wrong way, and you will end up breaking the continuity of the shot.

30 Degree Rule

When documenting or creating a video, the view in each videographer’s shot of action, character, or scene needs to change throughout the composition. Doing this makes your film more interesting for viewers and will also help you, the director, creatively add new ambiance and information to the plot. This is where the 30-Degree Rule comes into action. Applying the 30-Degree Rule will change the point of view when you are trying to communicate a new element in your video. Otherwise, the shot risks feeling repetitive and boring.


Headroom refers to the amount of space between the top of your subject’s head and the top of your frame. This rule of videography and photography is especially important in documentary or corporate-style videos. Too much headroom will make your client appear to be sinking. We have observed that most novice photographers and videographers will frame shots of their clients with too much headroom. You can always look through some old family photos to get more references if you don’t believe us. Too little headroom places great visual emphasis on the person’s chin and neck. When framing shots of people (portrait shots), all you have to do is to pay attention to where the eyes appear. Follow the rule of thirds and place the subject’s eye on the upper third line for the best results. Keeping headroom less, you will have a cinematic setting for your videos, and with cinematic videos, you have more wiggle room to be creative. Just a videography and photography reminder here: when framing shots of people, don’t forget to avoid placing the edge of your frame at one of the body’s natural cutoff lines which includes the neck, elbows, waist, knees, and ankles.

Lead Them On

Lead space refers to the front space that is available in front of your subject. Leave those extra spaces in the direction your subject is looking. You might also see this space referred to as look space or nose room by other professional photographers and videographers. Just leave extra space in front of a moving person or object, like a runner, bicycle, or automobile, when following the action. Not doing so will make it look like your subject is in danger of running into the edge of your frame!

What’s in the background?

Well, most of your professional shots and videos will include all the background elements that are part of the location that your client has chosen for their professional photography or videography session. All you have to do is to make sure that what is in the background of your shot. Whatever is there, it should not draw your viewer’s attention from your main subject. Well, we have seen live TV interviews shot on location, where somebody in the background is waving or making faces at the camera. Well, this is one type of distracting background that you need to avoid while filming or capturing your client. Make sure you are always checking what is there in the background so that it won’t make your professional shots look weird or ugly. Various background clutter or distracting objects, like an overflowing garbage bin, can be usually avoided simply by repositioning your camera (by moving it left or right, or even framing a tighter shot, or lastly by changing the angle of your shot) or simply just by moving your subject to a new location. One of the best ways to avoid the elements in the background is by keeping the background out of focus, just by decreasing the depth of field in your shot. In fact, mergers are another distracting background. Background objects or strong vectors that visually merge with your subjects can only be distracting; they can be down the right humerus. Again, reposition the camera or the subject to avoid mergers.

Well, these are some of the basic and also mandated videography rules that every professional videographer must know and follow when they are filming to have the best results. There are times when videographers don’t follow these rules. There are times when it is not only important to know how and when to break or bend these rules, but a videographer must also know why he or she is breaking them and how it will help the scene.

So, as it is believed and also said that in almost every piece on the rules of composition, there are furthermore rules and principles for good photographic and cinematic technique. Well, all the rules and principles are helpful to understand and vital to know. Once you follow all these composition rules, we are pretty sure that you will be properly able to break them so that you can create art. After all, there are no rules to creating the art of your dreams!

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