Rule of Thirds Photography: A COMPLETE GUIDE for Novice Photographers

Rule Of Thirds Photography

Without appropriate composition, it is impossible to take a decent shot. It serves as a critical foundational element of art.

Photographers have discovered several rules throughout the years that help them to arrange photographs efficiently.

The rule of thirds photography is among the most well-known. It is a method of visual composition historically employed in photography and design.

If you feel interested in this topic, dont skip the post below.

Lets scroll it down to get into details!

What Is The Rule Of Thirds Photography?

The rule of thirds is a composition principle that divides a picture into 9 components and 4 grid lines by dividing it into 1/3 vertically and horizontally.

The guideline states that you will create better compositions if you place essential items alongside the gridlines.

You must arrange crucial compositional pieces according to the gridlines to adhere to the guideline.

Therefore, to take a picture of a flower, position its stem on the left or right vertical gridline.

Additionally, the horizon line should be positioned on the under or upper horizontal grid line while photographing the sunset.

You should be aware that the camera could include the grid overlay you can turn on in the settings.

This way, there is no need to visualize the rule of thirds. Instead, you may see it when you use the viewfinder.

According to the rule of thirds, there are 4 power points in the middle of each grid line junction.

When photographing a portrait, motionless scene, or a flower, you can put the focus here, including a subjects head or your pets eye.

Its not too difficult to apply the rule of thirds. Thats why it is famous and influential in photography.

Its a quick technique to sharpen your composition and takes no artistic talent or photography expertise.

Experienced photographers frequently utilize it in their photos since it always yields excellent results.

However, the rule of odds, triangular, or symmetry compositions are a few other vital guidelines besides the rule of thirds.

Without employing this guideline, you can still make stunning compositions.

Below is an illustration of the rule of thirds:

Why Do Photographers Use The Rule Of Thirds?

After learning the familiar concept of the rule of thirds, its critical to comprehend why its essential or what your images may achieve with it.

Here are the reasons photographers should apply this guideline to their work.

Bring Balance

Your picture will seem more balanced if you place essential features along the gridlines or intersections of the rule of thirds.

In addition to adding visual appeal to one-third of the layout, your primary pieces also help to balance out the compositions leftover two empty spaces.

As a result, it has a fantastic aesthetic and seems natural to the viewers.

Offer Dynamism

The composition of essential components in the middle of the picture frequently feels stagnant and monotonous.

There is nothing for the viewers sight to move; instead, the viewers stare at the picture, focus on the object in the middle, and then turn away.

However, the rule of thirds stimulates dynamism or movement, where the viewers first notice a crucial piece off to the edge before traveling visually across the remainder of the picture.

In other words, a composition using the rule of thirds makes for a more pleasing photography experience.

This guideline also takes inspiration from how people interpret images daily.

According to studies, viewers typically focus on a single intersection point rather than the shots center, so this guideline works with the natural way when people view an image.

The Rule Of Thirds Photography Examples

The rule of thirds is highly versatile, so that you can apply it to any subject. Here are some instances of how it is utilized successfully in various photos.

Portrait photography

Applying this guideline will result in intriguing portraits because no persons face is symmetrical. Here are some tips:

  • Decide which of the top two intersection places your subjects left, or right eye will be at.
  • To make your subject look relaxed and natural, position their shoulders around the third grid alignment at the bottom.
  • You may draw the observer into the image by carefully leaning your main subject to the other vacant four directions in the grids.
  • Ensure there arent any crucial things in the center of the picture while taking a horizontal shot for print.

Landscape photography

This guideline helps your landscape pictures gain clarity and harmony. Below are some tips when using it:

  • By placing the horizon border under the third of the grids, you may evoke a feeling of space by directing the viewers attention to the clouds above.
  • Place the horizon towards the top third of the frame to give the viewer a sensation of being close to the scene.
  • To establish a central focus, position an eye-catching natural feature, such as a river or hillside top, on any four crossing locations.

Street photography

The guideline brings stability and structure to the sometimes disorganized realm of street photography.

  • Place the main subject on any intersection spot to give a picture a distinct point of focus.
  • Alternately, divide the central subjects from the crowds and arrange both along complementary junction places for an intriguing contrast.
  • To add a feeling of order, organize a group of structures alongside the vertical orientations.
  • Place the sky on the lowermost horizontal line to provide the impression of spaciousness.


When resizing or repositioning your shot in post-production, you may also use the rule of thirds.

All you need to do is to turn on the guideline in the editing mode of the application you use. 

Adjust your pictures vertical and horizontal skew, so the lines will fit within the grid, then click the Save button. Its so easy!

How To Use The Rule Of Thirds Photography?

As shared earlier, you may take more visually appealing images and draw more attention to your artwork by using the rule of thirds.

Thats because this guideline takes advantage of how viewers naturally see pictures. 

The rule of thirds intersection points are sections in pictures where the human eyes are drawn to concentrate.

Power points or cash points are terms used to describe these intersections.

It is an excellent illustration of where viewers attention is concentrated and where it is preferable to position your main point in photos.

It is advisable to align the images features vertically from segment to segment and set the horizon on the under or upper line.

Additionally, you should avoid having your compositions main emphasis points cross intersecting lines.

A static picture is one in which the focal point is the object of your photograph or design.

The rule of thirds is based on the idea that when an image remains static, the observers attention is quickly pulled to it and left without anything else to look at.

One effective technique to get viewers to use their eyes to inspect the picture is to position your topic around one of the intersecting points.

The audience will find your shot more intriguing if you encourage engagement.

Its a good idea for photographers and designers to experiment with a grid intersection to make their work more visually appealing.

Additionally, it goes against the novice photographers first inclination to place the subject of the picture dead center, which is the Kodak guideline. 

Utilizing effectively negative space is another fundamental principle of picture composition to bear in mind.

A picture might look packed or stark depending on its space.

However, you can deviate from these fundamental compositional rules and yet produce stunning outcomes.

A design may seem minimalist if there is much negative space, whereas a format may appear maximalist if there isnt any negative space.

Dont stress if you realize that the rule of thirds doesnt appeal to you as you gain skills in photography. 

We will show you how to break it in the following section. Lets scroll down to learn more!

How To Break The Rule Of Thirds Photography?

The rule of thirds is a standard guideline that, when followed, can lead to suitable compositions. 

In fact, several famous photographers create their artwork without using this guideline. Sometimes, they decide to break this guideline. 

There are some main reasons why you should take photos without using them. 

If you arrange the main subject without the grid lines of the rule of thirds and it looks better, follow your heart and dont apply it. At that time, you break the rule. 

Symmetrical graphics, for example, are some instances in which the rule of thirds is not the ideal match for your artwork.

Sometimes, your subject may be too large to fit correctly inside the grid.

Besides, occasionally the rule of thirds isnt necessary if your picture conveys a story; instead, an extreme side or centered layout might effectively tell the narrative.

Positioning the main subject near the side or at an angle effectively draws attention to a fascinating scene.

In general, this guideline is not always practical. Digital has made it simple to explore and test out several various compositions.

Take your camera outside and attempt a few various positions for the subject before violating the guidelines and deciding which image you prefer the most.

How Can The Rule Of Thirds Improve Your Photography?

The rule of thirds is a compositional strategy that works in most situations.

As a relatively inexperienced photographer, are you attempting to frame a good shot quickly? 

If its the case, you should rely on this guideline to improve your photography skills.

This guideline makes for a valuable tool in the toolkit and guarantees that you constantly consider composition.

This guideline compels beginners, who frequently tilt their camera heads in the direction of a subject, to think carefully about their options and choose the best strategy.

Perfecting a skill requires practice. The area of your brain concerned with composition will continue to get stronger as you shoot more pictures.

Consider how changing composition affects the final piece when you shoot and edit images.

Youll learn to self-edit or start creating more precisely constructed photos if you are critical of your compositional methods.

Moreover, photographers have used this guideline for several years. It has contributed to the creation of some truly unforgettable pictures.

If youre uncertain how to frame a photo, the rule of thirds is a helpful guide to adhere to.

Extra Tips For Using The Rule Of Thirds

Applying the rule of thirds to your compositions is simple, but it could require some practice and effort before the guideline becomes part of the routine.

Here are valuable tips for practicing and applying this guideline in photography:

  • Most smartphones and cameras enable you to turn on a grid overlay in their viewfinder setting, which makes it easier to compose when youre on the go.
  • Capture as many pictures as possible while maintaining the same topic and positioning it on various third lines.
  • Keep your subject in the middle of the frame while taking a shot.
  • Take lots of photographs. After that, examine them and pick the images you like most.
  • Ask a skilled photographer to choose the best photo after seeing these.

It would be best if you turned on a similar overlay for the cropping tool when resizing your pictures in any editing application like Lightroom or Photoshop.

Final Thoughts

The rule of thirds photography is beneficial for photographers or designers to create appealing compositions for their artwork. 

If you decide to pursue the photography path, its best to learn about this crucial element besides other factors. 

Your subject in your picture will get balanced and draw more attention from viewers. Thus, its worth using this guideline. 

Hopefully, this article will be helpful for you. If you have further concerns, please comment below to let us know. Thanks for taking the time to follow us!

James Braden

He is a reporter, collaborating with many famous sports newspapers. But in addition to sports and writing, Jonathon is interested in photography. He has taken several short courses in photography and is an active member of the city’s photography club.

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