The Rule of Thirds and How It Can Improve Your Photography

By Rob Wood (Admin) / October 14, 2018

When it comes to learning photography, there are some rudimentary rules and skills that everyone needs to understand quickly if they are going to start producing great images.

But the rule of thirds can get you started very quickly in the realm of good composition, even if it's something you should try not to always be bound by.

Published: Mar 2, 2009

Update: Oct 15, 2018 – added links to further resources on the rule of thirds and fixed broken links.

In the world of art and photography composition, no rule is more fundamental than the Rule of Thirds.

The Rule of Thirds is basically a compositional guide that recommends that any image should be (imaginarily) divided into nine sections by equally spaced vertical and horizontal lines (like a tic tac toe grid). Any major elements within the image should be placed along these lines and preferably at the points of intersection.

Take this photograph for instance:

rule of thirds example

As you can see, the tree and the horizon, which are the main elements of the photograph, are placed almost perfectly along the horizontal and vertical lines drawn through the image, with the middle of the tree perfectly on the intersection of the lines. This is a textbook example of the Rule of Thirds in photography.

It is important to remember that the Rule of Thirds is really only a guideline. There are many times when it is acceptable to break this convention. For people who are new to photography, however, it is a good guide to creating well-composed photographs.

Some other images that utilize the Rule of Thirds in their composition:

rule of thirds
Martin Damboldt
Photo by Skeeze
thirds
Photo by Petra D

As you can see, the Rule of Thirds can really help – especially with a basic composition for basic subjects.

Related Light Stalking Rule of Third Articles:

External Resources for the Rule of Thirds:

Other Composition Guidelines in Photography:

While the rule of thirds is one of the fundamental composition guidelines of photography, there are many many other ways to compose your photos. It is also important that you don't restrict your own creativity. Here are a few other composition guidelines that you should also take a look at:


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About the author

Rob Wood (Admin)

I'm Rob, the editor of Light Stalking. I try to keep this ship on course.

  • Sarah says:

    Thanks! This is very helpful!

  • Mia Rose says:

    These are stunning examples of the Rule of Thirds. Thank you so much.

    Warm wishes,
    Mia Rose

  • Tom Grier says:

    In our Visual Journalism courses here at Winona State University (Minnesota), we've moved toward calling it “The Guide of Thirds.” We found students took the “rule” too literally and began to compose every image this way, regardless of content. It's a great way to enhance composition of most images, and these (above) are stunning, beautiful examples. But, clearly, there are some images that would be better suited with a more symmetrical treatment. Thanks for a thought-provoking, helpful article.

  • Blythe says:

    , . . , thanks for the tips, examples, etc. , guys, , , i like them and i learned something……….

    , . . , great photos also…………….

  • Zulaikha Didi says:

    Thanks! Its very helpful…

  • RATHIN BAKSHI says:

    I need a good tips for sea beach photography


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