Photography Article Background

Rule of Thirds Photography

Importance of Composition:

One of the first components about photography that must be learned is the importance of composition. It is one of the key ingredients to developing an amazing portfolio, alongside to learning the tricks to key lighting, shooting manual, or being able to do in-camera-effects such as motion panning. The standard compositional rule is the “rule of thirds”, a unique grid of lines arranged to divide your image into thirds. Along one of these lines, or at the intersecting point of these lines you want to position your most important subjects in your photo. This compositional rule is also commonly referred to as the rule of thirds grid, golden ratio, golden mean, or simply rule of thirds photography.

Compositional Rule of Thirds

Rule of Thirds Being Employed


The term rule of thirds has been floating around our world since roughly the 1800’s when painting was a very popular form of art. The older term, called the golden mean, has been around for years, back when the greeks roamed the earth and built extraordanary temples dedicated to their gods!

Components of the Rule of Thirds

  • 9 Equal Boxes
  • 4 Intersecting Points
  • 2 Horizontal Lines
  • 2 Vertical Lines

Rule of Thirds and Your Subject

By placing interesting components of your image at intersecting points, such as people, buildings, animals, or your main subject, you can make your image well balanced and help viewers naturally move through your image. The rule is based off of a subconscious movement throughout artwork where a viewers eye pauses at one of the four intersecting corners longer than it would in other such areas such as the far edges.

Using the Rule Of Thirds in nature shots

Rule of Thirds Outdoors

Modern dSLR cameras often display the grid view on the back display of a “live mode” camera. Also, this same grid may be activated in both Adobe Lightroom, and Adobe Photoshop.

Breaking the Rule

The Rule of Thirds is just one compositional rule available to photographers! Although commonly used, it may be replaced by simply positioning your subject in the centre of the image, all dependent on the point of taking the image and what you, as a photographer, want to achieve. Perhaps you simply wish to take an image of a subject isolated by a plain white background! In this case it makes sense to position the subject in the centre of the frame compared to off-setting it.

Delving Deeper

  • Silverlight – Quick reference to keeping photo’s balanced using the rule of thirds.
  • BetterPhoto – Some quick rule of thirds photo examples.
  • Jake Garn – Very interesting article on “the lazy rule of thirds” also known as the traditional “golden mean”.
  • Photoinf – More image examples.
  • Cambridge in Color – Always very detailed. Great site for information.

Rule of Thirds Photography Article End