Rule of Thirds

Alright.  I figured I’d start out simple.  The “Rule of Thirds” is a universally known rule throughout photography and other visual arts.  It is one of the most basic methods available to compose a shot, and it’s simplicity and effectiveness make it is an excellent place to start.

One of the common pitfalls I see among new photographer (and I was no exception) is a centered subject.  This is one of the few things you want to avoid.  It’s not that all photos with centered subjects are bad, but usually, they could be better.  Centered subjects usually create an awkward or unbalanced feel.  This is where the rule of thirds comes into play.

The concept is that there are stronger places to put the subject (or subjects) than in the middle.  In this case, 4 lines, and specifically, 4 intersections.  It gives you a way to break down the composition and place defining items at these stronger points.  These lines are at 1/3 intervals into the photos, as such.

The lines are common points to place things such as the horizon, buildings, or any other definitive horizontal/vertical lines.  The intersections are excellent places to put the subject, parts of the subject, or otherwise interesting things.  Using this method, it’s perfectly fine to not use all lines/intersections.

Taken with Kodak disposable

Finally, like any rule, this one is meant to be broken — it certainly isn’t the only way to compose a photo, but it’s good to understand what is aesthetically pleasing and why, and the rule of thirds is a great introduction into composition and a guideline that you’ll use for a long time.


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