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The Rule of Thirds in Photography: A Simple and Effective Composition Technique

Example of the Rule of Thirds in photography

The Rule of Thirds is a composition technique that is super easy to learn and just as easy to apply to your images to help you create better photos.

When it comes to capturing photos, many people simply point the camera at their subject and press the shutter button. Job done. By following the Rule of Thirds, however, you can create a stronger, more interesting photo which, undeniably, makes for better photo art!

What is the Rule of Thirds? It’s an incredibly easy composition technique which places your points of interest on invisible intersecting points and lines. When composing your shot, imagine a Tic-Tac-Toe grid:

Rule of Thirds Grid Example

Tip: check your camera’s settings as many models have the option to show these grid lines directly on the viewfinder. 

Following the Rule of Thirds

Now, simply compose your shot so your main focal points are positioned on, or close to, one of the four intersecting lines or, if that’s not possible, then positioned along one of the lines. Here are a few examples of photos that follow the Rule of Thirds.

Young child and cat looking through a gap in the fence - rule of thirds example

A horse looking over a barn door - example of the rule of thirds in photography

Boy smiling on a swing in the park - example of the rule of thirds in photography

Portrait of a happy woman leaning against a brick wall - example of the rule of thirds in photography

Cute little girl in pigtails sitting on a toy outside - example of the rule of thirds in photography

Fun trash-the-dress photo shoot illustrating the rule of thirds in photography

Breaking the Rule of Thirds

There are times, of course, when rules are meant to be broken – for example, when you want to fill your frame with your subject (which is often the case with portraits, pets, and baby photography) or when you want to photograph a landscape or subject with a lot of symmetry.

Little girl trying to stand on her head, peering through her legs

Close-up of an elephant trunk holding the tail of another elephant

Close-up photo of a small and fluffy dog

Sunset silhouette of two people holding up their mountain bikes

A spiral of smooth stones

A small, beautiful waterfall captured with a slow shutter speed

Remember, too, that if you forgot to compose your shot to follow the Rule of Thirds, you can use photo editing software to easily crop your images.

Happy shooting!


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