Jun 04

Rule of Thirds in Photography

Rule of Thirds in Photography

If you were to take a class in photography, one of the first things you would learn is a compositional rule known as the rule of thirds. The point of the rule of thirds in photography is to guide photographers to create more interesting and dynamic shots by discouraging them from placing the subject in the center of the frame. The idea is that the photo is divided with two horizontal lines and two vertical lines that create nine equal size squares in the frame, as seen below:


Instead of lining up, for example, the horizon of a photograph, with the center of the frame, the rule of thirds encourages photographers to line up the horizon more towards the top or bottom of the screen (as seen below). In the photograph below, (a) notice that the main figure (the whale) is not in the center of the photo, and (b) notice that the photo was cropped so that the horizon is on one of the rule of thirds lines.


On a side note, when using the rule of thirds in photography, it is not necessary to put the subject within the outside boxes, but it is also normal to put the subject near the intersection of the lines (as seen below). You can ask yourself which one better suites the occasion by asking yourself what the subject is and where you would like to place it.


HOWEVER, keep in mind that the rule of thirds in photography is not a “rule,” but instead is more of a guideline. There are always exceptions to “rules.” A photo does not become uninteresting just because it does not flow into the rule of thirds, and sometimes photos even look better without following this guideline. That being said, it is important to consider this rule, but it is not necessary to use it.

For another compositional rule (which tends to break the rule of thirds), check out my article on leading lines here: http://www.visionsphotographybyashley.com/2013/06/05/leading-lines-in-photography/

Have a wonderful day.

~ Ashley

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