Breaking The Rule of Thirds

January 24, 2010

Using the rule of thirds comes naturally to some photographers, but for many it takes some time and practice before it becomes second nature. But once it does become second nature you will see an overall improvement in the photographs you take.

You will recall that the purpose of the Rule of Thirds is to think about what the point of interest of the photograph will be, and to place that point of interest along one of the lines or where the lines intersect. In other words, you purposely place what you want your viewer to see first using the rule of thirds as you compose your picture.

Break The Rule

Rule of 3rds Misapplied

Rule of 3rds Misapplied

Like all rules, sometimes you need to break it. For example, look at the photo on the right. The photographer has obviously applied the rule of thirds by aligning the subject of the photo along the vertical line in the right hand third of the frame.

The problem here is that the left hand side of the photo is stark white with nothing in it. Therefore, while the subjects draw your eyes to them the blank space to the left is very distracting. In addition the photograph is overexposed.

When To Break The Rules

Some rules are meant to be broken, and ignoring this rule does not mean that your photographs will be uninteresting or unbalanced. On the other hand, a wise photographer I know told me that if you are going to break a rule you better learn the rule well first!

Sometimes placing the subject of your photograph in dead center can make a lot of sense and produce a very powerful image, in particular when you are taking portraits, where the subject of the photo is looking directly into the camera lens.

Another example might be when you are taking a group photo, or you simply want a landscape photo say of your home or farm, then ignore the rule and simply center the image in the frame. In this situation the image will fill the frame and the whole image is the focal point of your shot, not anything specific within the shot.

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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