Przejdź do treści

How to understand the rule of thirds?

The rule of thirds: composition technique

When we talk about the composition of a photo, we must first understand the rule of thirds.
This well-known rule will help you position the elements of your photo that you want to highlight. The viewer’s eye is then drawn to the desired subject.

What is photo composition?

the composition of an image: light and shadow
We will see in the next articles the essential techniques to master to get started in photography. For now, let’s focus on the “staged” aspect of a photo. Knowing how to compose a photo means knowing how to stage it. To do this, you have to arrange the different elements present in the image. Your subject must be highlighted through good positioning and framing.

And it is thanks to this approach that you will obtain not a beautiful photo, but a unique photo.

The rule of thirds: definition

The rule of thirds is a pictorial composition aid found in the composition of drawings, paintings, photographs and videos.

This “rule” suggests that the image be imagined as divided into nine equal parts by 2 equidistant horizontal lines and 2 equidistant vertical lines (the lines of thirds). Concretely, your image is divided into 2 horizontal lines for each third of the photo and 2 vertical lines for each third as well.
The crossing of the 4 lines constitutes 4 points of intersection. We therefore obtain 4 lines of force and 4 points of force. The elements that we wish to highlight are located on the lines of force and/or on the points of intersection of our photo.

Most SLR or hybrid cameras offer the third party grid on the screen or viewfinder.
This will help you use this composition rule more easily to get started.

Why apply the rule of thirds?

Our eye tends to read photos in a particular way. We read from left to right and top to bottom. Our eyes follow the lines of force and then focus on the points of force.
It allows images to have a more impactful and expressive impact.

Landscape composition

The rule of thirds applies in 2 ways to landscape composition.

  • Either, we place the horizon on the lower third line (first horizontal line).
  • Either, we place the horizon on the upper third line (second horizontal line).

We place the horizon on the first horizontal third (at the bottom) if we wish to highlight a sky, clouds, a sunset…
We place the horizon on the second horizontal third (at the top) if we wish to highlight a landscape, vegetation, a meadow, rocks, etc.

The composition of portraits

Place the face(s) in your photo on the crossing points to obtain a balanced image.
If the subject is looking to the left, prefer to place the subject on a point of strength located to the right of the image. The goal is to “let your photo breathe” and create better visual dynamics.

the rule of thirds: 2 subjects are found on the lines of force and on the points of force

The composition of a moving subject

If the subject moves to the left, prefer to place the subject on points of strength located to the right of the image. You then leave sufficient space to accompany the movement of the image. This creates better visual dynamics.

To sum up

The rule of thirds involves identifying the main subject of your photo and locating it in the left or right third and the bottom or top third.
The eye is thus drawn towards the desired subject and it will then wander through the rest of the image.
It’s up to you to direct the viewer’s gaze! Give your photo more scope and emotion. Tell a story.
A rule exists to be applied, but also to be broken.