Photograph of myself
Photography of Girl Sniffing Flower
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Photograph of Woman and her child

The Rule of Thirds

The simplest rule that will instantly improve your snaps

All professionals will understand this rule, it is one of the first things I learned, but even the simplest holiday snaps will be improved with this applied. It is based on the ‘golden ratio’ of which, should you wish to read all about it can be found here...

But in a nutshell, the ‘golden ratio’ can be broken down to the ‘rule of thirds’. And it really is simple, divide your frame into thirds, both vertically and horizontally creating an imaginary tic tac toe board (some modern digi cams have this in their settings to switch a grid like the one below on, so now you know what it is for, use it)...

tic tac toe board image for tutorial on the rule of thirds

All you have to do now is place the objects in your frame to fit this structure.
If you're taking a picture of someone, instead of just pointing your camera at them and having them slap bang in the middle of your shot, put them a third to the left (or right) of the image to give a little of their surroundings in the image too but try to make sure that if they aren't square on to the camera then they are facing into the frame and not out of it (another framing tip).

Same rule applies if you are shooting a landscape, don't just have the horizon line in the middle cutting the frame in half, instead, either put it in the top half, this will give the feeling that you are actually stood there, in the shot, or if its the sky that makes the shot, put the horizon line on the bottom line giving a more stood back feel.

If you are shooting an object, a flower for example, then once again, use the rule (basically incorporate the rule into anything) place the head of the flower at an appropriate intersecting line joint for the shot.

Here's some examples of the ‘rule’ in action...


Below, this is bad framing, the horizon is cutting the image straight in half and gives the image that ‘snapshot feel’...
Not good image of a landscape, cropping no good divided image straight in half

Below is a much better composition, the higher horizon line gives the feeling that you are actually there and could plant your feet on the ground. Admittedly, this shot also looks a little more interesting as I used my wide angle lens, but still, the effect is very much the same in any circumstance.
Good image of a landscape, framed correcly using the rule of thirds


Below, bad cropping and composition of people just slapped bang in the middle of the frame and giving the image that ‘snapshot feel’...
Bad Snapshop composition of couple

Below is a much better composition, now the couple have been placed on the right third of the shot giving you a look at where they are, and if you notice, the horizon line on the top third also, don't forget to try and include the ‘rule of thirds’ as many times as you can in your shot and it will just get better.
Good image of a couple, framed correcly using the rule of thirds

I hope this little tutorial has inspired you to grab your camera and get some photos took, remember to bear this simple but handy rule in mind next time you're on holiday and start taking pictures you will want to look at again and again.

For anyone with a Camera

If you have a camera, you can put these tips and rules into your shots and instantly improve your photos, turning snapshots into photos you will enjoy over and over!

Intermediate Tutorials

So, you have just bought a new DSLR and are thinking about claiming your a wedding photographer, cool, each to their own, but you should at least understand these...

For the More Advanced

These tutorials are for the more advanced, not containing much on the lines of camera use, as you should know most of that, more things I have come across on my travels.

View My Portfolio on Various Stock Sites to the Right...