The Rule of Thirds

January 23, 2010

As you begin to explore photography you will be confronted with a lot of technical terms which may tend to make you think photography is too difficult and will take more time to become good at than you care to spend. The truth is that spending a little time learning the basics will not only let you get better photographs, but it will bring out creativity in you that you may not realize you had.

The Rule of Thirds

The Rule of Thirds is also known as the “Golden Rule” of photography and, while not an absolute requirement or necessary, will still help you create more interesting photographs in most cases. The rule of thirds is a rule of thumb arts and designers use when creating their work.

The rule states that an image should be imagined as divided into 9 equal parts by placing two equally spaced lines horizontally and vertically through the image, and that the most interesting parts of your composition should be placed along one of these lines or at the intersection of 2 of them.

Help The Viewer Interact With Your Photo

Studies have shown that when someone first views a photograph their eyes will naturally go to one of the intersecting points rather than the center of the shot. In other words, applying the rule of thirds has this natural way of viewing an image instead of working against it.

Notice the two photographs below and observe how the image on the right is more interesting than the image on the left:

Centered Photograph

Simply Centered

Using the Rule of Thirds

Using the Rule of Thirds

While both children are doing similar things you can easily see that the photograph on the right has more interest to it than the one on the left. The most common kind of photographs taken are similar to the one on the left, however, as you can see simply taking a little time to understand composition and applying the rule of thirds can result in a much more interesting and engaging photograph.

You Want Your Photos To Be Interesting

After all, when friends and relatives come over to visit one of the things most of us do is bring out the photo album or fire up the computer to show them recent images of our family and kids.

We are all waiting to hear those “ohhs and ahhhs” when they look at our photographs. Another benefit of learning a bit more about composition is that we begin to create images that harken us back to that moment in time we snapped the photo, and it helps us record the history of our child or family.

So, the next time you are taking pictures image the grid you see on the left while composing your photo and try and create an image like the one on the right – you will be pleased with the results!

Rule of 3rds Grid

Rule of Thirds Grid

Child Under Blanket

Baby Under A Blanket

Remember, keep taking lots and lots of photographs of your kids. You will be glad you did!

Betty Muscott, Child Photographer

Betty Muscott, Child Photographer

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