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Today I thought I’d write about something a bit different than usual. My goal with this is to provide some basic information for people who aren’t professional photographers.

I’ll call it Tuesday Tips. Or Tip Tuesday. Actually, no; those are both awful names.

Without further ado, Today’s Topic: THE RULE OF THIRDS.

You may have heard this phrase before since it’s one of the most common methods of composing a photograph. Essentially, you split the frame into thirds both vertically and horizontally as seen here:

The point of doing this is to provide a mental1 guide for where you should place your subject, whether it be a person’s face, a lighthouse, a tree, or the horizon.

Here are some examples from stuff I’ve shot that obeys the Rule of Thirds. Also, these are how most people should be composing their photos of people whether using an iPhone or DSLR.

This shot of Mavis and Sylvea is a perfect example. Their faces are directly on the intersection of two lines. Their faces are also on the top horizontal line which is where faces normally are.
This shot of Mavis and Sylvea is a perfect example. Their faces are directly on the intersection of two lines. Their faces are also on the top horizontal line which is where faces normally are.
Here's a shot of Jaysen and Christopher where their faces are in tne upper third, but centered between the two vertical lines. In retrospect, I should have composed this shot with their faces a bit lower in order to give them some room to breathe.
Here’s a shot of Jaysen and Christopher where their faces are in the upper third, but centered between the two vertical lines. In retrospect, I should have composed this shot with their faces a bit lower in order to give them some room to breathe.


Of course, now that I say all that, you can start breaking the rule once you get comfortable with it. That will allow you to create some interesting compositions. The composition of the shot below is all the rage these days. If you’ve seen the show Mr. Robot2, you know what I mean.

Note that their faces are on the lower horizontal line, which complies with THE RULE, but faces on the bottom third really only work when there's some cool architectural aspect above them. The vertical lines of the white rectangles help make this shot work as well.
Note that their faces are on the lower horizontal line, which complies with THE RULE, but faces on the bottom third really only work when there’s some cool architectural aspect above them. The vertical lines of the white rectangles help make this shot work as well.

So there’s your quick tutorial!

In summary, you should default to the following composition when taking your everyday photos. Faces centered in the upper third.

Do this:

GOOD
GOOD


Don’t do this:

BAD
BAD


If you follow this simple rule your photos will be far more pleasing to the eye – regardless of the subject.

  1. …and sometimes visual if your camera has a Rule of Thirds overlay setting.
  2. http://www.ipoxstudios.com/mr-robot-creates-visual-tension-with-composition-techniques/

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