Why you Should be Using the Rule of Thirds
This is one of the most common composition techniques around and it’s that way for a reason; it works. Photos that are correctly composed using the rule of thirds create depth and interest in a photo, and add an interesting balance between subjects and background. Once you start playing around with this rule, you’ll start to see it more naturally and your photos will begin to improve.
What is the Rule of Thirds?
This basic composition rule is used by photographers, artists and designers to help create a better composition. The rule basically dictates that photos should be split into 9 equal parts; 2 equally-spaced horizontal lines and 2 equally-spaced vertical lines, and that important features within the frame should intersect with these lines at some point.
Now before we go any further, i’d like to say that the term ‘rule’ in photography is used very loosely and you should never follow a rule if it doesn’t work in your photo. In photography, rules are made to be broken, but it’s always best to know the rule you’re going to break before you break it.
How to Use it
The rule of thirds is a great way to make your average day to day photos look a little bit more interesting. Consider this comparison below. By moving the subject off center it adds depth to the image where there once was none.
Knowing about the rule of thirds will help you see potential photos in different ways. In these photos below, instead of merely taking a symmetrical photo, which would have been easy, but boring, I decided to have the horizon intersect with the top third line in the frame. This change in perspective again adds depth to the photo and grabs your attention with an interesting foreground.
When you’re taking a photo of someone and trying to observe the rule of thirds, I find it’s best to place the subject to the side of the frame so that they’re facing into the photo and not out. There are exceptions where the background might be particularly interesting with a nice hokeh or depth of field, but in general, it’s best to have them looking into the frame. I also tend to line up the eyes with one of the guide lines as it creates a good balance in the photo.
Finally, when you’re framing a photo, look for natural lines in the frame and try to line up with thirds with them. The photo below has the subject looking inwards, creating depth and interest, but it also has vertical lines that line up with one third of the photo. This helps to maintain a good balance in the photo and ensure the the space to the right of the subject is not wasted.