Photo Tip Friday: 3 Tips to Help Understand the Focal Point in Photography

by Mary Denman  @MaryDenman

A friend graciously offered to take pictures with me to help teach you lessons about paying attention to the background in your shots. 

Why? So that you can understand how the focal point in photography makes a difference. 

She would take a picture first, not using anything she's learned from my blog, and then I would take a photo after her.  

Hopefully, you'll be able to see how just a little adjustment when you take a shot can improve your photography by honing in on the focal point of the picture.

Let's get started.

What is the focal point of a picture? 
1) It can refer to the part of the picture that is in focus.
2) It can refer to the point of the picture, the part that's important. 

For today's blog, we're referring to the second definition. I want you to learn to learn how to take pictures that let your viewer know quickly what the picture is about.

COLLAGE 1: This series shows how cropping makes a huge difference in defining the focal point. 

PHOTO 1: In this picture of the clouds, there isn't a clear focal point. The lines of the house compete with the silhouettes of the trees and the bright clouds. Nothing really stands out.  

PHOTO 2: In this shot, by cropping out the house, the focus is clearer. The clouds are now framed by the trees on two sides and you can see the different layers of the clouds. The trees even add an additional layer of depth.

PHOTO 3: As you can see, by moving in even further and cropping out the trees in the shot, the focus is entirely on the clouds, textures and billows.

TIP 1: Learn to zoom in on your subject while you're photographing a subject to crop out the clutter and unnecessary parts, like the building in collage 1.

COLLAGE 2: In this series of photos, you can easily how a busy, cluttered background detracts from the focal point. 
PHOTO 1: In this shot, the rose is at the top of the frame and slightly cut off. Too, you can see part of a grill, the dryer vent and part of the window frame. While the flower is gorgeous, the clutter in the background makes this a bland shot. 

PHOTO 2: By slightly changing position and looking up at the flower, you can remove the clutter, and get the entire flower in the picture.

PHOTO 3: I took this shot with my Canon 6D instead of my friend's point and shoot. I was able to control the lighting and you can see the vibrant color of the rose better and the background fades into darkness, making the rose stand out.

TIP 2: When photographing, make sure the entire subject is in the picture. While you can certainly take a partial shot of a rose, if you want the entire rose, then make sure you don't cut off the edges of the flower. 

COLLAGE 3: In this series, you can see how important having a focal point is. 
PHOTO 1: There is no focal point to this picture. There are lots of leaves and purple pods. It's very cluttered.

PHOTO 2: By moving down to the ground and pointing the camera back up, the purple pods are now the focal point of the shot

PHOTO 3: I again used my Canon and took a picture of the plant from the side. By having one pod in the middle that's in focus, it draws your eye in to what's important. 

TIP 3: Move around to make sure the focal point is distinct from its surroundings. Try different angles to get the best vantage point. 

ASSIGNMENT: Grab your camera and just use your house or yard to try these tips with. Use your dishes inside or any plants you have outside. Take a general picture and then hone in on the interesting part. Try different angles and see how you do! 

CELL PHONE USERS: Paying attention to the surrounding in your photos is exactly the same as for DSLR users. Zooming is just as easy as swiping your screen. You can also take multiple shots to improve your photos. 

BLOGGERS: In as much as a photo needs a clear focal point, so does your blog. Take time to evaluate what you blog on and make sure it's pertinent to the platform you're building. If I started doing organizational ideas, or lots of recipes here, my readers would be confused. While I LOVE getting organization ideas or recipes from other blogs, it wouldn't make sense here. Re-evaluate your blog from time to time.

Hope these tips help!
Keep on clicking.
3 Tips to Understand the Focal Point in Photography (click to tweet)

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  1. Nice informative post, Mary.
    Thank you!


  2. hi there...thanks for sharing the tips and have a great weekend..

    1. You're so welcome! Thanks for dropping by!

  3. This is perfect! Pinned and tweeted. We appreciate you taking the time to party with us! I hope to see you on Monday at 7 pm, so we get to see your fabulous new creations. The party goes until Friday at 7 pm. Happy Sunday! Lou Lou Girls

    1. Thanks for the wonderful parties you host!