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The Rule Of Thirds

Posted on November 2, 2019 by Admin under Uncategorized

The Rule of Thirds

The rule of thirds is one of the first principles of composition that most photographers come across as they learn about photography. The basic principle is very simple—that you can make a more pleasing composition by placing the main point (or points) of interest one third of way in from the top or bottom and from either side of the image. An easy way to visualize this is to imagine a grid superimposed on the image. The grid divides the frame into thirds both horizontally and vertically. The four points where the lines of the grid intersect are said to be the ideal locations to place the main point of interest of the photo.

The  model, Hayley, is placed more or less on one of the intersections of the grid. In theory, this creates a better composition than placing her in the centre, or close to the edge of the frame.

 But in order to learn more about composition, and move beyond the rule of thirds and take better photos, we need to first understand what the rule of thirds is telling us to do.

Another place you’ll see the rule of thirds come into play is with landscape photography. The general advice is to place the horizon on one of the thirds so that you end up with one-third sky and two-thirds land (or the other way around).

The same advice also applies to portraits. The general wisdom is that you should place the eyes of your subject as close to the intersection of thirds as possible.


Does this mean that you should compose your photos according to the rule of thirds all the time? No it doesn’t. You should think of the rule of thirds as the “guideline” of thirds—a suggestion as to where you should place the subject. Sometimes it’s the best place for your subject, and sometimes it isn’t. The challenge is learning some of the other principles of composition that help you decide when to go with the rule of thirds and when to ignore it.

I’ll finish this section with a final thought on the rule of thirds from fine art photographer Cole Thompson, quoting his version of the rule:

A great image is comprised of 1/3 vision, 1/3 the shot and 1/3 processing.