Rule of thirds

I know some of my Phore friends are newer than I am to photography, so here is the most basic principal for taking great photographs. Grab your camera’s manual and look and see if you have an option to turn on gridlines that will show on your LCD screen for guiding you as you practice framing your shots within the rule of thirds. Sure you can edit in post production, but it’s better to get the shot right straight out of the camera.


Perhaps the most well know principle of photographic composition is the ‘Rule of Thirds‘.

rule of thirds 1

It’s one of the first things that budding digital photographers learn about in classes on photography and rightly so as it is the basis for well balanced and interesting shots.

I will say right up front however that rules are meant to be broken and ignoring this one doesn’t mean your images are necessarily unbalanced or uninteresting. However a wise person once told me that if you intend to break a rule you should always learn it first to make sure your breaking of it is all the more effective!

What is the Rule of Thirds?

The basic principle behind the rule of thirds is to imagine breaking an image down into thirds (both horizontally and vertically) so that you have 9 parts. As follows.

rule of thirds 2

As you’re taking an image you would have done this in your mind through your viewfinder or in the LCD display that you use to frame your shot.

With this grid in mind the ‘rule of thirds’ now identifies four important parts of the image that you should consider placing points of interest in as you frame your image.

Not only this – but it also gives you four ‘lines’ that are also useful positions for elements in your photo.

rule of thirds 3

The theory is that if you place points of interest in the intersections or along the lines that your photo becomes more balanced and will enable a viewer of the image to interact with it more naturally. Studies have shown that when viewing images that people’s eyes usually go to one of the intersection points most naturally rather than the center of the shot – using the rule of thirds works with this natural way of viewing an image rather than working against it.

Other examples:





3 Responses to “Rule of thirds”

  1. Great post! Tips like these are going to be very helpful to me. I didn’t read the article in entirety, but plan to do so later. With that said, I DID figure out how to turn on the grid lines! Thanks again.

  2. Ashley (dixie) Says:

    Thanks for posting these tips! I have no photogrpahy background or training so these are so helpful. And now I see why some of my pictures are wonky as well :-p

  3. […] to remember the “Rule of thirds” (see this blog for details). Posted by pixy0stix Filed in Assignment Leave a Comment […]

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