Lesson 7 – Rule of Thirds

Rule of thirds
Using the rule of thirds to place the baby's face at a 'power point' one third of the way from the top and from the side.

The most used lesson in artistic composition is the rule of thirds. While there are lots of ways to compose pictures, this short cut always makes an image more interesting than most where the subject is dead center. If you're shooting a close up of a person's face or other object, putting it in the center is the thing to do. But, if you have a picture with a person in the center and lots of scenery around him or her - well, it could be improved.

Rule of thirds in photography compositionExercise: Take a piece of paper and draw two horizontal lines dividing the paper into thirds.

Draw two vertical lines again diving the paper into thirds.

Note the four places where lines intersect each other.

Now go take a picture of anything - placing the main subject at one of those four positions one third of the way from the top or bottom and one third of the way from the side. In fact, try placing the same subject at all four intersection positions. Take a look at the pictures.

Next lesson: Diagonal Lines (Leading Lines)

8 thoughts on “Lesson 7 – Rule of Thirds”

  1. Amazing resource, Neil. I recall some pointed advice you gave me a few million years ago re: portraits (shoot as close as possible without physically touching the subject) for a more personal/professional shot) which changed my whole outlook & confidence shooting people. I considered it professional advice from a pro: I see this resource website in the same light: Asking professional advice from a professional. Nicely done.

  2. Thumbs up, man!
    I’ve been reading your pages for the past couple of hours. Everything was great, but this is more than great. I’m new to photography, and honestly, the rule of thirds is awesome.
    Thanks for sharing your expertise and experience with us!

  3. Thanks for what you have shared with us about the rule of thirds but a further sample of already taken pictures would give it even a better and easier understanding. Thanks.

  4. It’s amazing how something so simple to follow often gets forgotten . Yet it really makes a big difference. I especially see this being true in local camera club competition. Images that follow the 1/3s seem to score higher more regularly.

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