Focal Points in Photography

When taking a picture, you need to have a focal point to draw attention to a particular section of the photograph. This focal point can be a relatively small section of your image, but there are a few techniques to making your subject stand out in relation to the rest of the scene. Learning how to do this successfully will help you to improve your images and increase your skills as a photographer.  

Selective Focusing

One of the most effective ways to direct attention to your focal point is through selective focusing. While this can be a hard thing to master, it is very worthwhile and can greatly improve your focal points. In order to learn this, you must first understand how aperture and depth of field work together. If you have your camera set at a low aperture you will have a small area of focus. This small focal plane is where you want your focal point to be situated. Everything behind and in front of your focal plane will be blurred, causing the viewers eye to be drawn to your subject. 

Rule of Thirds

Another great way to direct attention to your subject is to use the rule of thirds. Placing your subject off center, is more pleasing to the eye and will be an attention grabber for your viewers.  Think about ways to adjust your position when shooting in order to place your subject in the sweet spots of the rule of thirds. The way you approach composition can either make or break your image. Master the rule of thirds and put it to use in your images.  

Color, Shape, and Texture

Using different contrasting colors is another really great way to draw attention to certain areas of a scene. When colors pop and stick out in an image, your eye is immediately drawn to that section.  Figure out ways to use the colors in a scene to best bring your subject to life. Along the same line, shape and texture are other ways to enhance a focal point.  Use different shapes and textures that compliment each other and grabs your attention. 

Keep It Simple

If you are cluttering your image with too many prominent subjects, than your focal point will start to lose effect. Keep your scene simple and try to focus on your main subject.  The goal with focal points is to easily communicate what your subject is to the viewers, rather than confuse them. A few corresponding subjects within the scene of your image is usually great, just be careful not to clutter and overwhelm your picture.  


Although this may sound fairly simple to master, the only way to improve your focal points is to practice! I have been shooting photos around Raleigh with my new lens to really work on mastering my focal points. Grab your camera and practice finding and capturing your focal points using these few tips. Make sure you know your camera settings well and find a sweet spot with your aperture.  Each given situation will be different, so learn how to adjust quickly and easily to each scenario. Also, try to use more than one of these ideas in a scene.  Using a combination will draw out the subject and enhance it even more.  I hope these tips are helpful for you as you work on your focal points!