Mastering photography takes a long time. Don’t worry if your picture-taking skills aren’t currently as strong as you’d like. Even professional photographers continue to improve and learn over the course of lifetimes.
That said, there are simple strategies you can use to make your pictures come out better starting now. Applying the rule of thirds is one of them.
What is the rule of thirds? How will understanding it help you become a better photographer? Keep reading to learn more about this essential photography concept.
What You Need to Know About the Rule of Thirds
Improving Shot Composition
Trying to improve your photography skills when you’re inexperienced can be naturally frustrating. Why does it seem that in some instances, two people can take a picture of the exact same subject, in the exact same conditions, using the exact same equipment, but one picture will turn out remarkably stronger than the other?
In many cases, simply composing the shot differently will have a major impact on quality.
Shot composition essentially refers to the way in which objects and subjects are arranged within the frame. For example, maybe you’re taking a picture of a chair. A picture in which the chair is center-framed will have a different composition than a picture with the chair off to the side.
Luckily, the rule of thirds can help you choose the ideal composition for many subjects. How?
Using the Rule of Thirds in Photography
As the name implies, the rule of thirds involves thinking of the frame as if it were separated into three vertical sections and three horizontal sections. Imagine the lens of the camera had a grid superimposed over it, with three vertical and horizontal lines creating these thirds.
(It’s worth noting that many of today’s camera apps allow users to turn these gridlines on. Thus, you don’t need to imagine them to use the rule of thirds when composing shots. That makes your job much easier.)
Your goal when composing pictures is to try and place key subjects in the spots where these gridlines would meet. For instance, perhaps you’re taking a picture of a sunrise, with the sun peaking over the horizon. You might compose the shot so that one of the horizontal gridlines is even with the horizon, and the sun appears in a corner where a horizontal line connects with a vertical line.
Experiment with this technique when taking pictures. Learning to use the rule of thirds is easier than you may think, but can dramatically improve the quality of your pictures.
Important Points to Remember
It’s important to understand that the rule of thirds isn’t a strict law of photography. It’s a rule of thumb. That means, there are instances when you can (and should) break it.
Determining when those instances are will be easier when you’re more confident in your photography skills overall. You may want to continue using the rule of thirds until you’re comfortable with breaking it consciously. In the meantime, applying this basic concept to your pictures will help you appreciate just how crucial strong composition is.