Rule of Thirds: A Classic Photography Composition Technique

The first concept that many budding photographers learn is the rule of thirds. But what is it? And why is it so effective?

In this blog post, we'll explore the rule of thirds so you know how to use it to improve your photography composition.

Rule of thirds diagram

What Is the Rule of Thirds?

The rule of thirds is a technique or principle for composition in photography. It involves dividing an image into thirds both horizontally and vertically, resulting in a grid of nine equal parts.

According to the rule of thirds, you should position the most important elements of your photo along these lines, or at their intersections. This should create a visually pleasing and balanced composition.

How Does the Rule of Thirds Work?

But why does this technique work so well? The rule of thirds helps to create a sense of balance and movement in an image. By placing key elements off-center, you create a more dynamic and interesting composition than if you simply centered everything in the frame. This helps guide the viewer's eye through the image, leading them to the most important parts of the scene.

One of the simplest ways to apply the rule of thirds is to position your subject at one of the intersections of the grid. For example, if you're photographing a person, you might position their eyes at one of the intersections to create a more compelling portrait.

Alternatively, you might use the grid to position other elements in the scene, such as a tree or a building, to create a sense of balance and harmony.

rule of thirds diagram example

Rule of thirds diagram example

Why It Isn't Really a Rule

Of course, the rule of thirds is not really a 'rule'. It's a guideline that you are free to follow, adapt or ignore depending on the situation and your own creative intentions.

For example, you might choose to center your subject to create a sense of symmetry or use a more complex composition that doesn't follow the rule of thirds at all.

But for beginners, the rule of thirds is a great starting point that can help you create more visually interesting and compelling images.

rule of thirds

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The rule of thirds is a simple but powerful technique that can help you create more dynamic and balanced compositions in your photography.

By positioning key elements along the grid lines or at their intersections, you can create a sense of movement and balance that draws the viewer's eye into the image.

To learn more about the rule of thirds, download our free 90-page eBook, An Introduction to Photography.

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