Digital Photography Tip: The Rule of Thirds

June 12, 2012

Digital Photography Tip: The Rule of Thirds

You’ve probably already heard about the Rule of Thirds. It’s one of the most popular subjects in photography composition. But, it’s such an important idea that it bears repeating because it can really help you create well-balanced and visually interesting images.

The Rule of Thirds is based on the idea that the center point of a picture is often not a pleasing place for the eye to rest and that an image that has its main focus at its center tends to feel static and one-dimensional. Placing the main focus of your image off-center opens up space around your main subject, inviting the eye to move through the photo. The result is a more dynamic composition with movement and dimension.

The rule of thirds is pretty simple. Divide your scene into thirds both horizontally and vertically, creating an imaginary grid, and then place the main subject of your image along these lines or at their intersection rather than at the center of the scene.

A few things to keep in mind:

  1. When you’re photographing a single person or an animal close up, consider the main focus to be their eyes and place the eyes along those lines or where those lines intersect. If you’re shooting more than one person, use the faces as the points of interest.

  2. If there is any type of movement in the image, or if your subject is looking in a particular direction, consider placing them along the grid line opposite to the movement or look. So, for example, if your subject is looking towards the left, place them in the right half of the photo so that the movement is into the photo rather than out of it. In an action shot, it’s usually best to leave more space in front of a moving subject than behind it.

Here are some examples:

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rule of thirds
rule of thirds
rule of thirds
rule of thirds



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