Basic Composition: Rule of Thirds

The Rule of thirds is a composition guideline for images. It is a simple concept that can be used to help you create more balanced and engaging imagery.

The rule of thirds states an image should be imagined as divided into 3rds both horizontally and vertically, creating nine equal parts (see image above). Furthermore, the rule states important elements within the image should be placed along these lines or their intersections. The idea is by placing images along these areas the photographer creates points of tension/energy/interest in the composition, then if they simply centered the subject.

While there are many more composition techniques, the rule of thirds is a great starting point for any beginner.

When you are setting up your photo, try to imagine the scene divided up in the way described above. Think about what the most important part of your photo is and try to place them at or near the lines/intersections of the grid, like the above image. See how the baby is positioned on the right-hand side of the image and the focal point of the image, his messy fingers, are located near/on the intersecting point? Tip: Some cameras overlay settings which will allow you to see the rule of thirds grid on your photo as you are composing it in camera.

It is important to note this not a hard and fast rule—sometimes breaking rules can yield stunning results. However, just like any new skill, before breaking any rules it is important to master them first.


Want to learn more about photography basics, participate in monthly challenges, and receive constructive criticism on your images?

Join our Facebook group, Capturing Life: A Rochester Parent Beginner Photo Group. Be sure to answer the questions so one of our admins can let you in!


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