Photography is something that allows us to capture the beauty of the world and express our creativity. One of the most important visual elements in photography is emphasis, which refers to the technique of highlighting a particular subject in an image. Emphasis is a powerful tool that can make your photos more compelling and effective in conveying your message. In this post, we’ll explore what emphasis is in photography, why it’s important, and the top ways to emphasize your subject in your photos.

variety fruits

What is Emphasis in Photography?

Emphasis is the technique of using visual elements such as color, contrast, focus, framing, and composition to draw the viewer’s attention to a specific subject or area in a photo. The emphasis can be achieved by making the subject larger, brighter, or sharper than other elements in the photo. The purpose of emphasis is to create a focal point that guides the viewer’s eyes and makes the subject more prominent and memorable.

worm's-eye view of buildings painting

Why Use Emphasis in Photography?

Emphasis is crucial in photography because it can help you communicate your message and evoke emotions in the viewer. By emphasizing a subject, you can create a visual hierarchy that directs the viewer’s attention and conveys your intent. Emphasis can also add depth, drama, and dimension to your photos, making them more engaging and dynamic.

Top Ways to Emphasize Your Subject in Photography

  1. Use of Depth of Field: I often use a shallow depth of field to make my subjects stand out. This technique blurs out the background, drawing the viewer’s attention directly to the subject. It’s excellent for portraits and product photography.
  2. Playing with Lighting: Lighting is a key factor to create emphasis. I prefer shooting in the ‘golden hours’—the time right after sunrise or before sunset—to get a naturally diffused, soft light that highlights my subjects beautifully.
  3. Color Contrast: I love capturing vibrant colors and using them to create contrast. A contrasting color can make the subject stand out, creating a striking, memorable image.
  4. Composition and Framing: The Rule of Thirds and leading lines are my go-to composition techniques. They help me guide the viewer’s eye straight to the subject.
  5. Focus on Details: Sometimes, I choose to emphasize not the entire subject, but a specific detail. This can create a powerful, intriguing photograph that invites viewers to look closer.
  6. Isolation: I often isolate the subject by ensuring there are no other elements around it. This simplicity and lack of distraction ensure that the subject is the key focus.
  7. Leading lines: Leading lines are an effective way to draw the viewer’s attention to the subject. I like using them in my images to emphasize and direct the viewer’s eye to where I want it to go.
  8. Props: If done right, props can be a great way of emphasizing your subject. They can provide context, add depth and dimension and help create

Remember, the techniques to create emphasis in photography are numerous, and these are just a few that I personally use and find effective. It’s about experimenting and finding what works best for you and your style. Have fun!

a close up of a spider on a web

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the difference between emphasis and focus in photography?

Emphasis is the technique of making a particular subject or area in a photo more prominent than other elements, while focus refers to the clarity and sharpness of the image. Focus is necessary to create emphasis, but the emphasis is more about creating a visual hierarchy and directing the viewer’s attention.

Can I use emphasis in all types of photography?

Yes, emphasis is a universal technique that can be used in all types of photography, from landscapes to portraits to astrophotography. The key is understanding your subject and your intent and choosing the right tools and techniques to create emphasis.

Happy small girl gardening and picking raspberries. Close up.

Final Thoughts

Emphasis is an essential technique in photography that can make your photos more powerful and effective. By using techniques such as selective focus, contrast, framing, lighting, and repetition, you can create a focal point that guides the viewer’s eyes and draws attention to your subject.

Try practicing this in a busy setting such as a market or a crowded shopping mall and focus in on one specific product or object. By doing this you show your viewer what they should be looking at.

Remember that emphasis is not just about making the subject bigger or brighter but about creating a visual hierarchy that communicates your intent and message. So, experiment with emphasis in your photography, and you’ll see how it can elevate your images to the next level. And remember have fun with it. Happy shooting!


The Photography Revision team are a group focused to simplifying the world of photography through revision tools, info sheets, product reviews and many more. We are an experienced team of photographers looking to help people who share the same passion.

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