Home Photo Tech 5 Key Points on The Rule of Thirds: Enough for a Newbie

5 Key Points on The Rule of Thirds: Enough for a Newbie

Have you ever marked grids (two horizontal lines and two vertical lines intersection) on the display of your camera or smartphone display? Surely you did. But have you ever asked yourself about the use of it? Have you ever asked someone else? If not, then you must know why it is given. It is offered for maintaining the rule of thirds or know as the rule of 3 in your photo. Now we will learn about the rules of thirds photography technique so that we can make good pictures.

1. Rule of Thirds: A Photography Composition

There are many types of composition-rules for photography. Among those, The rule of three is a very common, most important and primary composition which a photographer should learn at the very initial stage of his photographic learning which is necessary for all photography projects. It is a composition which was introduced by artists for painting their canvas in the 18th century. In the year 1797, John Thomas Smith came up with the idea of the rules of thirds or the rules of 3.


Gradually after the invention of the camera, this rule got involved in photography as the rule of composition. Origin is not essential to learn the topic but mentioned to pay respect to the founder of this great rule. Many say that rule is not for photography; it is an art and art has no law. I also consider photography as art, but I prefer to break the rules after I know it.

2. Rule of Thirds: Two Lateral and Two Vertical Lines

The rule of three also written as rule of 3 is the byproduct of two lateral and two vertical lines intersection in a frame. The vertical lines trisect the structure into three equal parts vertically, and lateral lines trisect it laterally. So, they meet at four points. These four points are our primary concern in making a composition. These lines create a total of nine equal blocks in a frame. It is the basic idea of this composition.


3. Rule of Thirds: A Natural Way of Viewing

This rule is called as a natural way of viewing and thus makes an excellent composition. The four points in the frame are learned to be the points which capture the human eyes usually in a frame. So, we can say that the points made by the intersections are demanding points where we need to keep the things of our photo that should be focused. Now, we will be learning how to place the subject in those points.

rule of thirds a natural way


4. Rule of Thirds: Not the Only Rule to Follow

The rule of third is not the only rule to be followed. It is one of the composition rules out of many. However, it is not mandatory to follow the rule of 3 always. But, before you break the law, you should know it. If you are capturing something that is symmetric, then you should avoid the rule of three. Again, if you are shooting a portrait which is a headshot, then the rule of thirds is not applicable here.

not the only rule

5. Using the Composition

As an amateur photographer, the four points discussed above are enough to know about the rule of thirds. These are the necessary information about the rule of thirds. Now we shall learn about their use in photography. I shall cite some examples to make you understand the use, and I hope you will be able to use the rule in any photography.

Portrait Photography and the Rule

Suppose you are capturing a portrait. Now you are considering the whole body of the person to be framed. Where to place him in the frame? Earlier I said to place your subject on the four points. But the subject is big enough to cover the whole height of the frame. What to do now? Well, what are the things you think people look for in a portrait? Face, eyes, mouth, etc. So, you can place the center of the face on one intersection.


Now, if you want to emphasize the smile of the person, then you need to place the smile on the intersection. If it is eyes, the eyes should be the priority. A question may arise that there are two eyes and which eye to place then? Very easy, place the midpoint of two eyes on the intersection. And one more important thing is, you have to keep the body of the person on one along the vertical line if he is standing.

rule of thirds portrait 1

Landscape Photography and the Rule

By reading the previous para, we can say that we need to keep the subject along a line and the most important part of the subject on an intersection. It is the same for landscape photography. For landscape photography, you need to maintain something more. There are three things to be considered in a landscape. Those are the foreground, midground, and background.


The foreground is the portion which is nearer, then the middle portion is the midground, and the last portion is the background. Let’s cite one example to make it a clear one. Suppose there is an island in front of you and you are standing on the beach. Now, from the beach to the starting of the island is the foreground, from there up to the horizon or the skyline is the midground, and the sky is the background.

rule of thirds example


So, in general, there are three parts to landscape photography. In the rule, there are three parts from the top to bottom of the frame. It is suggested to place the meeting of the grounds on the lines. That means, the meeting line of the foreground and midground will be along the lower lateral line and the meeting line of the midground and background will be along the upper lateral line.

Any Photography and the Rule

I have discussed the use of the rule of three on two categories of photography only. What will be the rule for other categories of photography? The thumb rule is, you need to place the subject on the lines and most vital points on the intersecting points. I will keep some Example below which shall open your mind for using the rule of 3 for any photography.

Last Words

Finally, I should say, if you are an amateur photographer or a newbie then you should start with the rule of thirds. Gradually you will come to know when you have to break the rule. Before cutting the rule, be a master on it. If you can not maintain the rule while capturing a photo, make the composition later on by post-processing with a photo editor. You will clearly understand the necessity of the rule of three and the difference between a photo following the rule and not following the rule if you make it by post-processing.



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