The Rule of Thirds

25 Nov

One of the most important rules of composition in photography is the “rule of thirds.”

To put it simply, the photographer must divide the photo into three equal sections (horizontally and vertically) to create 9 equal boxes in the frame. This can be done by changing the settings to view a grid on the camera screen or simply by picturing it when looking through the lens.

Once you have this grid in sight or in mind, place the subject of your photo at an intersection of two lines or parallel to one of the lines.


I drew this grid over one of my photos quickly, so the measurements are not exact, but it explains the process.

Having my subject and her footprints near the right line and right intersections of the grid gives the photo a more interesting and unique look. It also gives room for more background imagery, in this case the ocean and sand, on the left side of the photo.

Both of these characteristics keep the photo from boring the viewer.

Though one might think the viewer looks directly to the center when first seeing a photo, this is incorrect. Studies have shown that viewers are more likely to look toward the areas of the photo where the line intersections occur.

Here are a few more examples of the rule of thirds.

Here are a few examples of boring photos without using the rule of thirds.

Although these are both boring subjects, they could have been used to create a more unique photo by using the rule of thirds and changing the perspective.

The rule of thirds does not always have to be used to create an awesome photo.

Here is an example of an interesting photo without using the rule of thirds.

This photo is filled with different colors and objects and shows different depths. Although it could be altered to be presented better, it is still a fun photo.

The trick to the rule of thirds is to learn how and when to use it, so you can then learn how and when not to use it.


8 Responses to “The Rule of Thirds”

  1. Nicole Larkin November 27, 2012 at 7:14 pm #

    Well, for one, I LOVE your blog! And I couldn’t agree more about the Rule of Thirds! It makes photos so much more interesting and draws your eye in!

  2. Nick November 27, 2012 at 9:30 pm #

    Love this post. Something every artist needs to keep in mind.

  3. Chris Metzger November 28, 2012 at 12:05 am #

    Great advice. You should definitely give us more simple tips to make our photography more interesting and professional looking. Thank you!

  4. Adam Schneider November 29, 2012 at 3:02 am #

    I needed to take some pictures today for some work and they turned out great because I used the rule of thirds! Thanks for the great info!

  5. cmgress November 29, 2012 at 5:51 am #

    I think the cereal bowl is my favorite because of the colors.

  6. cmgress November 29, 2012 at 5:52 am #

    …But I also like the garden sign photo, it’s mystical.

I am always happy to read comments and critiques. What do you think of my blog?

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