Rule of Thirds sets best practice for positioning the elements of a picture in order to achieve the best results. Following this “rule" will assist a photographer in producing a more aesthetically pleasing photo.
Firstly, I’d like to mention there are no set rules to photography. Let’s face it, if there were hard and fast rules, we’d have a lot of uncreative and unattractive photographs floating around. Photography is an art form – a portal to creativity. So, the word “Rule" in “Rule of Thirds" should maybe be replaced with “Rule of Thumb"...then again, that doesn’t flow so nicely, does it? You get the idea.
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Rule of Thirds Grid
Visualize a Noughts and Crosses grid (Tic-Tac-Toe, if you prefer) and you’ve pictured the Rule of Thirds.
(Click on images to enlarge)
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Yep, it’s that simple....well, almost. The idea is that you take your subject(s) or areas of interest and place them along or near the intersecting parts of the grid.
Surprisingly – or not – many people tend to take pictures with their subject being smack dab in the center of the photograph. This applies to all subject matters – people, landscapes, wildlife, etc. Although, sometimes a photograph can walk away looking better with the subject centered, that’s rarely the case.
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Examples of the Rule of Thirds
The following example shows the grid on the picture. The people are positioned near the bottom right intersection...
I’ll conclude this article with two images. They are of the same people and same background, in fact, they haven’t even changed positions. The only difference is that the photographer repositioned herself to follow the rule of thirds, making for a much more appealing photograph.
To take the best photos, there are many different photographic composition techniques you need take into consideration. This article series on photography composition will provide you with guidelines, tips and techniques to help you learn how to take better photos.