The Most Popular Photography Composition Rule - 'Rule of Thirds' to shoot impactful Photographs

The most basic of all photography rules is - the rule of thirds. Many good photographs can be observed to following this rule of photograph composition. In this blogpost, we will talk about Rule of Thirds, it's influence in photography, when to use, when not to use it and how this rule can make ordinary photography look magical in final outcome. Let's get start and learn, what exactly is it.     While in this series we will talk about various rule of composition to create interesting and balanced photographs, but breaking the rules can also create some brilliant photographs. But having said that, you can only break the rules when you know them and it's a gradual process :).

The most basic of all photography rules is - the rule of thirds. Many good photographs can be observed to following this rule of photograph composition. In this blogpost, we will talk about Rule of Thirds, it's influence in photography, when to use, when not to use it and how this rule can make ordinary photography look magical in final outcome. Let's get start and learn, what exactly is it. 

While in this series we will talk about various rule of composition to create interesting and balanced photographs, but breaking the rules can also create some brilliant photographs. But having said that, you can only break the rules when you know them and it's a gradual process :). 



This rule is all about dividing your frame/photograph into nine equal sections by a set of vertical and horizontal lines, like what you see in image below. With the imaginary frame in place, you should place the most important elements of your photograph on one of the lines or where the lines meet.    Related Blogpost - Tips to click Great People Portraits with your Phone Camera

This rule is all about dividing your frame/photograph into nine equal sections by a set of vertical and horizontal lines, like what you see in image below. With the imaginary frame in place, you should place the most important elements of your photograph on one of the lines or where the lines meet.


It's a technique that works well for landscapes as you can position the horizon on one of the horizontal lines that sit in the lower and upper part of the photograph while vertical subjects can be placed on one of the two vertical lines.    Supposedly when viewing photographs, eyes usually go to one of the intersection points most naturally rather than the center of the shot and if that's true, Rule of Thirds certainly ensures that your placement of important objects is right in photographs you shoot.     Related Blogpost - Quick-Tips to click Great Selfies with your Phone Camera

It's a technique that works well for landscapes as you can position the horizon on one of the horizontal lines that sit in the lower and upper part of the photograph while vertical subjects can be placed on one of the two vertical lines.

Supposedly when viewing photographs, eyes usually go to one of the intersection points most naturally rather than the center of the shot and if that's true, Rule of Thirds certainly ensures that your placement of important objects is right in photographs you shoot. 


How precise you have to be with this Rule of Thirds, when clicking photograph? 

When To Use The Rule of Thirds :    This depends on the situations you are photographing. Like in above photograph, I had to click this single bird, so where to place it? Putting the only subject in middle of the frame is so boring. So Rule of Thirds was one option. There can certainly be other options depending upon what you want tpofocus on in  photograph.

When To Use The Rule of Thirds :

This depends on the situations you are photographing. Like in above photograph, I had to click this single bird, so where to place it? Putting the only subject in middle of the frame is so boring. So Rule of Thirds was one option. There can certainly be other options depending upon what you want tpofocus on in  photograph. 

If you find yourself around a landscape which has no vertical thing, like beach then using the rule of thirds horizontally with the horizon line a third of the way up an image will create a pleasing minimalist composition.

If you find yourself around a landscape which has no vertical thing, like beach then using the rule of thirds horizontally with the horizon line a third of the way up an image will create a pleasing minimalist composition. 

It's important to give space around your main subject and don't clutter it with lot of objects which may distract viewer.  The image above is a good example of this and then placing simplistic subject around one of the lines according to Rule of Thirds keep the photograph unusual in some way.

It's important to give space around your main subject and don't clutter it with lot of objects which may distract viewer.  The image above is a good example of this and then placing simplistic subject around one of the lines according to Rule of Thirds keep the photograph unusual in some way.   

If there are lot of distractions in your view, use them to frame your subject. Then you can place some of the relatively important elements around the intersection of lines drawn according to Rule of Thirds. As you practice it more, you will automatically figure out variations of Rule of Thirds.

If there are lot of distractions in your view, use them to frame your subject. Then you can place some of the relatively important elements around the intersection of lines drawn according to Rule of Thirds. As you practice it more, you will automatically figure out variations of Rule of Thirds. 

Are There any variants of Rule of Thirds ?    In busier places such as the beach you see above, it can be more difficult to use the rule in its purest form. In such cases, grid formation can help to compose the photograph. Some sort of framing happens automatically in these shots. It creates interesting photograph along with various elements complimenting each other in the photograph.     Related Blogpost - Creating High-Tone Effect in Portraits using Adobe Photoshop Lightroom || Post-Processing Tips

Are There any variants of Rule of Thirds ?

In busier places such as the beach you see above, it can be more difficult to use the rule in its purest form. In such cases, grid formation can help to compose the photograph. Some sort of framing happens automatically in these shots. It creates interesting photograph along with various elements complimenting each other in the photograph. 


If you notice above photograph, can you say Rule of Third is applied on this photograph? Yes, and in a very interesting way.  The actress is aligned with one of the lines of the grid you see in Rule of Thirds frame. And then notice the alignment of other side the door in the background. It's approximately aligned with parallel line of the grid. This is also a good example of 'framing', which we will discuss soon on the blog.     Rule of Thirds help in creating create well balanced and interesting photographs and breaks the monotony.     Related Blogpost - Correcting Skin Tones in Adobe Photoshop Lightroom - Part1 (Bsic Post-Production for People Portraits)

If you notice above photograph, can you say Rule of Third is applied on this photograph? Yes, and in a very interesting way.  The actress is aligned with one of the lines of the grid you see in Rule of Thirds frame. And then notice the alignment of other side the door in the background. It's approximately aligned with parallel line of the grid. This is also a good example of 'framing', which we will discuss soon on the blog. 

Rule of Thirds help in creating create well balanced and interesting photographs and breaks the monotony. 


When Not To Use The Rule of Thirds :    Sometimes a subject is strong enough to hold the attention of the viewer and be pleasing enough not to require the rule. Completely frame-filling photographs may look awesome than applying Rule of Thirds.

When Not To Use The Rule of Thirds :

Sometimes a subject is strong enough to hold the attention of the viewer and be pleasing enough not to require the rule. Completely frame-filling photographs may look awesome than applying Rule of Thirds. 

If you notice above photograph, it's completely filled with subject and in this 50% space on left is taken by the face and rest divided between the hand holding the sword & some emptiness around it. It's pretty tight shot not following Rule of Thirds but still looks interesting.      End of the day, It's all about what you as artist/photographer think will work for you and consumers of the photograph you are creating.

If you notice above photograph, it's completely filled with subject and in this 50% space on left is taken by the face and rest divided between the hand holding the sword & some emptiness around it. It's pretty tight shot not following Rule of Thirds but still looks interesting. 

End of the day, It's all about what you as artist/photographer think will work for you and consumers of the photograph you are creating. 





So far, we have been talking about clicking photographs by following Rule of Thirds, but keep the rule of thirds in mind as you edit your photographs. Post production editing tools like Adobe Lightroom or Snapseed have good tools for cropping and reframing images so that they fit within the rules. Experiment with some of your old photographs to see what impact 'Rule of Thirds' can create for you.

Here are some other popular links explain Rule of Thirds in their own ways and I am also providing a reason why I chose these links :

Rule of Thirds by Digital Photography School - Picked this link because every photograph shared in this post has grid on them which makes it easy to understand the concepts. 



How much of it makes sense to you? Please feel free to share your comments or questions through comments section below. 

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