There are certain
guidelines in photography about composition - but they're just that.
The Rule of Thirds guideline tries to correct one of the
most common mistakes in photography. For some reason, when we take
a picture, we subconsciously try to achieve symmetry. We'll try to
achieve it in every picture - unless we can break the habit.
Symmetry, while it can be very appealing in some pictures "usually" is a
poor choice. The Rule of Thirds tries to get you to think about
breaking the symmetry habit.
Imagine that you split your viewfinder in thirds - both
vertically and horizontally. When taking a picture, try to put
your subject at the intersection of two of these lines. In the
following diagram, you'd want to put your subject at one of the small
circles - at one of the intersecting points of the horizontal and vertical lines.
If you photograph a person, you have a choice.
Take their whole body, the upper part of their body or just their head
and shoulders. Here's a question for you: In all of these
scenarios, what is the "subject"? You certainly can't put the
whole person at one of these points! I hope you answered "their
head". The person's head is often the subject (not always though -
you might want their "hands" to be the subject or some other part of
them). The rule of thirds suggests that you should put their head
at one of the four points where the lines intersect. But which
one?? Well, that's up to you, BUT, it's almost always best to have
the person looking "into" the picture. If their head is turned,
even slightly, to the left, then put their head at the top-right
intersection. If their head is turned to the right, then put their
head at the top-left intersection. That way they are looking "into" the
picture. Same rule holds true for animals.
If you photograph an inanimate subject, try placing it
at one of these lines. Buildings can be placed on either of the vertical lines
while horizon lines are typically placed on one of the horizontal lines.
If you photograph a landscape picture, try to place the
horizon line at one of those horizontal lines. A picture with more
sky than land or more land than sky is almost always more pleasing than
one with equal amounts of land and sky! Which composition do you
In most cases, you can improve your pictures almost
instantly by incorporating the rule of thirds. All you have to do
is remember it before you press the shutter button!!
Here's are a few simple rules that will help you put the
Rule of Thirds to work:
||Don't center horizon or water lines (ocean, lake, etc.) in the
||Don't put a person's head in the middle of the frame
||Have the person/animal looking INTO the frame, not out of it