Photography Tip #8 - Rule of Thirds

This month we will be talking about composition. One of the first things that I teach people when starting in photography is the rule of thirds. It is a very common, popular, and probably well-known photography tip.

The idea is basic. Your photograph is divided into thirds. There are two lines vertically and two lines horizontally, which means you will end up with 3 rows and 3 columns, making a grid. You will use this grid system as a rule to help you line up what you’re putting in your picture.

In this picture I am photographing a little boy and right now his face is in the middle of the photograph which is very common because the center dot is what the camera will focus on unless you move it on purpose. You can move your camera until it’s lined up the way you want. So again, we’re looking at thirds. I just moved this top line of the grid to the boy's eyes because I want the focus of the photo to be hitting thirds. Either landing to one of the lines or landing into the middle of the intersecting points.

As I have demonstrated here, I keep him in the middle and put his eyes in the top third. I could also move him over to the side and crop him closer, as long as I can keep his eyes on the third line or much more in the intersection. Likewise, I could crop it vertically up high and move the bottom third over his eyes which is another option. You could even move him in the center so that half of his body is going down to the third line. It kind of moves him in a little circle keeping his eyes raising the thirds.

If his eyes are not the focus, but let’s say his hands, it’s the same exact thing!

It’s very simple, just put his eyes on the center, with his eyes on the line. The same things over and over like a broken record. Now, let me add all his pictures. When you look at this you see some space around him, so it’s kinda hard for my eye to focus. I kind of look at the trees, I kind of look at his face. However, the minute I start cropping on his eyes on the third it’s much more easy for my brain to process the image. When I look at his picture on the left I go boom! You look at his eyes on the other end. In this picture my eyes will wander a little more even if it is settled, this is why we use the rule of thirds it helps you to process the picture quickly in powerful way. This picture is one of my favorites because the attention is on his eyes and the back is smooth and not distracting, the same thing over here. That’s how you determine where you want to place them using the rule of thirds. First, I am aware of the background and then I say based on the background I can put him on this third and so on and so forth.

There’s a lot that you can get into it so that taking a series of pictures like this and you can do it in person or later on the computer and put his eyes or whatever your focus is on all of the different third lines. See which one you like best!