As a photographer, I’ve heard this rule so many times it’s got a permanent etching within my skull. I might as well tattoo it on my ear, so everyone will know it’s been there, done that. Have you heard about the rule of…oh yes, yes you have. Let me tell you about it anyway.
But it is a very important and useful tool if you ever want to transform your photography from amateur to professional-grade, and all it takes is one tiny movement with your frame.
What is the Rule of Thirds?
The rule of the thirds is somewhat of a guide that photographers use when trying to determine where something should be placed in the frame of a photograph. This guide or grid breaks the frame into three horizontal sections and three vertical sections.
How do I do it?
Many cameras have this grid built into them. It might be a setting, or even right there when you look through the lens. Use this guide to determine where your focal point–that’s the main attraction–will appear in the frame. As you can see above, the photographer decided to put the tree in the crosshairs of two squares and the horizon right above the bottom third of the frame. This accents the sunset and gives the comp an “artistic” appeal.
The easiest way to think of it: is my focal point in the very center? If so, try to get it on the outside thirds–or crosshairs–and try to place the different aspects of the background–such as the horizon–into another “third.”
Will I always have to do this?
No. If you decide, for instance, that you want your baby’s face to be the center of attention, go for it. But you can still apply this rule to the other parts of the picture, such as a blankie at his/her toes, or a toy hanging above his/her head. Use your best judgment.
Also, if you are taking pictures of abstract patterns, the rule of thirds might not be necessary.
Here are a few more examples of Rule of Thirds:
Here are some examples of photos where the Rule of Thirds is not necessary:
When do YOU like to use the Rule of Thirds? Do you find it more helpful? More hindering? I’m interested in YOUR experiences with this guideline!
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