Rule of Thirds: Photographic Composition Guidelines

Photographs are timeless moments etched in time, and as such they should be framed with the utmost care. Successful photographs often use a technique called “The Rule of Thirds” to ensure that each moment is given equal weighting on both horizontal & vertical axes. The idea behind this rule goes back to Western painting origins where painters divided their canvases into thirds from top-to-bottom and left-to right; placing one subject at any point along these lines would create an aesthetically pleasing composition for viewers who were drawn by your masterpiece! In our article today we will explore how you can apply this simple concept – using guidelines like alignment, balance & proportionality – when taking photos not only so you know what beautiful shots look like

 Rule of thirds is explained

The rule of thirds is a guideline for artists who want to lead their viewers’ eyes around the frame. The idea behind this technique was that placing visual interest on one third, two-thirds or three-thirds would capture more attention than if it were placed in the center of an image.

The composition of a photograph is impacted by the rule of thirds. The horizon in this photo sits at the horizontal line dividing two-thirds from one third, and an intersection where lines meet often creates more tension than if it were centered or aligned with another point on either axis.

Use Cases

The rule of thirds is a way to break up the frame and prevent it from looking too static. It can help avoid centering subjects or having horizons divide pictures in half, as with movies. Filmmakers value this technique because these breaks give viewers more places for their eyes to rest while watching on screen

Photographers and filmmakers often line the body up to a vertical line, as well as lining their eyes at an intersecting horizontal. If filming subjects in motion, try following this same pattern; most of the extra room should be located directly ahead from where they’re going next for easier capturing.

It is important to take a moment and consider the subject of your photo. If they are not looking at you directly, then it’s best to give them more room in front so that their vertical line goes through where they would be standing if facing forward.


In 1797, John Thomas Smith wrote the “Rule of thirds” in his book Remarks on Rural Scenery. In this unquantified work by Sir Joshua Reynolds titled The Balance Of Dark And Light: Observations On Painting and drawing from which he quotes a passage about balance between dark and light; an idea expanded upon by John T.S., henceforth known as the Rule of Thirds.

In addition to naming it such, he also published several other textbooks for artists including  A Treatise on Perspective (1794) with instructions for how to draw figures at various sizes based off those principles

 When to use the rule 

The rule of thirds can be applied to most art forms. For instance, landscape photography has a horizon line that should generally align with the top horizontal gridline and key compositional elements such as structures on stilts are also positioned in accordance with this guideline. This gives an overall balanced feel while still providing dynamic interest within the frame due to its placement at one of three power points highlighted by the rule’s guidelines for composition:

There are a lot of reasons to do your best at portrait photography. For one, it’s important that you make the subject feel comfortable and confident in their surroundings so they can show off who they really are on camera. That means paying close attention to various factors like where the head is positioned or what might be distracting from behind them–the rule-of-thirds gridlines help with placement for just this reason!

Several tips to use the rule of thirds

The rule of thirds is an easy way that many photographers use to create a better composition. Consciously asking two important questions before taking your shot can help you start thinking about what matters in the photo, and where it should go. What are my points of interest? Where will they be situated within this frame?

This is a great way to get your composition looking just the right. You can determine what you want, and then place it on an existing grid or power point line! This will make sure that every part of your picture has balance in its own space – neat huh?

A good tip for beginners is to start practicing the rule of thirds right away! If you’re interested in trying it out on your photos, take a look at an old photo and experiment with cropping different areas. See how this impacts what’s captured by the frame–sometimes there are dramatic shifts between versions when everything else stays exactly the same. This can offer insight into all sorts of things, like which elements seem more important than others or where our eye naturally goes as we skim through images quickly online (or just casually flispping pages).

Should you always follow the rule of thirds?

Many photographers have a problem with breaking the rule of thirds. The reason is that they think it will make their photos less professional and more amateurish looking. However, there are many times when you should break this rule to achieve better results for your work: sometimes even stronger than sticking by it! One example would be photographing symmetrical subjects where one side may not seem as interesting or visually appealing in comparison to another part on either end. When shooting these types of pictures, I like to put my subject off-center so that the entire composition can balance out evenly without any imbalance from having an obvious focal point on just half the photo.

Apply the rule of thirds by Using editing software

When you’re looking to improve the composition of your photo, it’s a good idea get acquainted with using the rule of thirds. This is an easy way to make sure that your subject and important objects stay in their best positions within view while remaining visually pleasing for viewers. With Photoshop or Lightroom software, you can quickly find where these lines are by activating one on screen overlays which include this option built into them – all so that cropping becomes easier!


This article will help you explore the rule of thirds as a composition technique in photography, starting with those who are just learning. As your skills develop and grow more advanced though, it is important to realize that good compositions are not about adhering strictly to any rules but rather composing each photo for its own merits depending on situation. Different types of compositional techniques work well under different circumstances so don’t be afraid to experiment!