What is the “Rule of Thirds” and how I used it in every Photo Shoot

Many cameras and most smartphones offer the option to display a grid over your viewfinder, and for good reason. The “Rule of Thirds” is a golden rule for composition in photography, fine art, and graphic design.

So what is “The Rule of Thirds” in photography?

In photography, the rule of thirds is a method of composing the subjects in your photograph. The frame is divided evenly into thirds, both horizontally and vertically. The subject of the image is placed at the intersection of those dividing lines, or along one of the lines itself.

Rule of Thirds by Kelly Heck Photography
The red cross-sections indicate where a subject might be centered.
The vertical lines indicate where a vertical subject might be placed.
The horizontal lines indicate where a horizontal subject might be placed.

The rule of thirds helps to draw the viewer’s eye into and through the photo and places more emphasis on the subject. A big thing with composing an effective image is keeping the viewers eye WITHIN the image, moving about. The last thing you want is for the viewer to look away and move on.

In the above grid, a face might be well composed within the top left red cross-section. The Eiffel Tower might be well composed along the right vertical line. A landscape might be well composed if the horizon meets up with the top or bottom horizontal line.

Following are real examples of my client’s photos using the “Rule of Thirds” method. You will see faces centered on cross sections, subject matter centered on vertical lines, and horizons meeting up with horizontal lines.

The rule of thirds doesn’t work 100 percent of the time, but it is a safe place to start before you venture outside the grid. Give it a try!

Kelly Heck is the owner of Kelly Heck Photography, based in Central Maryland.

PHONE: 443-340-6317
EMAIL: kelly@kellyheckphotography.com

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