Photography and the Rule of Thirds

Photography and the Rule of Thirds

The Rule of Thirds is one of the most traditional and well-known rules within photographic composition and something that has been taught to all aspiring photographers in schools, colleges and universities across the world. It is one of many techniques used in photography and its purpose is to help you create a well balanced and well composed shot. However, this rule doesn’t apply with every scenario so keep in mind that your creativity can flow however you like.

So, what is the Rule of Thirds? Well…

Start with breaking the image into a nine-section grid. The four points highlighted should involve your points of interest within the shot. Studies have shown that, when a person is looking at an image, their eyes naturally gravitate towards the outside of the image rather than the centre so try and make the most of your whole frame. The four lines on this grid provide a useful guide for positioning different elements in your photo, so you can photograph your subject in line with this.  

Here are some examples of where the Rule of Thirds is being used


The rule was originally introduced so beginners could learn how to compose an image that is off-centre. People often make the mistake of thinking the subject needs to be in the middle to grab your attention, which isn’t the case. Photographing subjects in extreme corners can have a massive impact on viewers compared to directly using the centre.

So now you have a better understanding of the Rule of Thirds you may notice that you naturally position photos like this, it’s kind of like second nature to you. Or maybe it’s a little harder for you to pick this technique up and you just need a little more practise.

When you’re about to photograph something, always ask yourself these two things:

  • What are the main points of interest in this shot?
  • And where should I intentionally place them?

Always remember that, although it’s a rule, the Rule of Thirds can be broken too. It’s no more than a set of guidelines so don’t compromise your composition by excluding important elements of your image just to adhere to the Rule of Thirds. So, experiment and try to photograph things off centre and you will start to see what works best for you. I suggest using it wherever possible as it really does work.

Happy Snapping!

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