Rule of Thirds

R is for Rule of Thirds

Taking a good picture is something we all aim to achieve, whether we’re into photography or not. After all, nobody wants to look at fuzzy, out focus photos. We don’t need expensive equipment or the latest camera in order to take memorable pictures. All we need is to learn a little about lighting and composition to get us by.

The Rule of Thirds is the basis for great shots, and is one of the first things photoenthusiasts and photographers learn about in their classes.

The Rule of thirds is a basic compositional guideline that can help anyone produce pictures that are more likely to be visually interesting or striking.

Like any rule however, The Rule of Thirds can be broken as it is just a guideline and not a hard and fast rule for taking good pictures. But of course, before we go about breaking sound rules, we must first learn about it, so that we know if going against it might be better for the shot we’re trying to create.

What Exactly is The Rule of Thirds?

Your camera might have a display setting that makes you see lines running horizontally and vertically on your LCD Screen. Those lines weren’t placed there to annoy you or to make sure that you shoot everything dead center.

Rule of Thirds Grid, image from

The Rule of Thirds states that we have to think of images or pictures as divided evenly into thirds.

It identifies 4 important spots in the grid where we can place points of interest in the image we’re trying to create.

Rule of Thirds Grid, image from

The idea is to place main elements and subjects at these four power spots to create a more balanced and more aesthetically pleasing photograph.

How To Use The Rule of Thirds

If your camera has the grid view on your display settings, it’s best to use it when you’re first starting to play around with the Rule of Thirds.

When framing your picture, use the grid (imaginary or otherwise) to divide the scene. Figure out what elements of the scene are the most important and try to place them at one of the four power spots or near the lines and intersections of the grid. The important elements don’t have to be perfectly lined up, but they should be at least close.

Here are some pictures that  clearly show the Rule of Thirds at work:

From by Dennis Jarvis

From by K Praslowicz

You can find more examples of great shots taken using the Rule of Thirds at

Here’s one I took at the L.A. Flower Market using the same rule:

Now that you know how to use the Rule of Thirds, try it. See if you can come up with your own visually striking images.

More References for the Rule of Thirds:


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30 Responses to “Rule of Thirds”

  1. Kathy says:

    Cool article about the rule of thirds!! Usually I am simply trying to get a shot that isn’t blurry. 😀 Now with this awesome advice I will be checking my rule of thirds too. ♥

    Thanks for visiting my blog. Visiting you back from the A-Z challenge and loving what I see. Proud to be a new follower!!


  2. Amy Brantley says:

    Very interesting post!

  3. Maggie says:

    Ahh, so that’s what those grids mean! I love taking pictures; never took a class or studied a camera. :) Thanks for the tip!

  4. I do remember the rule of thirds from a photo class I took years ago.

  5. a.eye says:

    I have heard people talk about this rule, but have not really tried to intentionally put it into practice. I will have to start with the next pictures I take.

  6. Who knew? Rules rock… sometimes… when they make sense.

    This one does, thanks to you!

  7. Beth Lapin says:

    Interesting to understand what our eye and brain does intuitively!

  8. Your post is a great tip for photo-blogging. Good luck to you on the remaining A to Z letters!

  9. Thanks for sharing this:) I’ve been playing around with photography myself and read about this not long ago… thanks for the reminder! I should be applying this more often than I have lately.

  10. Wendy says:

    Great write up. I often have this rule in the back of my head when I’m cropping pictures to make sure everything isn’t smack dab in the middle every time.

  11. Teresa says:

    Very informative piece and the pictures help me to understand. Thanks for the post. A to Zinnggg.

  12. Andy says:

    I must admit…I learn something here. Good job!

  13. Jody says:

    Great info! Thanks for sharing! I have a friends wedding coming up. I will try to remember this when I am clicking off some photos!

  14. AmalieB says:

    Gosh, I can’t believe I made it through two photography classes and several years of illustration/drawing/graphics work without having ever heard this! Thanks for sharing it!

  15. Joy says:

    I love that picture you took of the orchids. Beautiful color! Thanks for stopping by my blog earlier.

  16. Sonnia says:

    Great post! I love photography and I’m a rookie, although I took a course in college. I love the Rule of Thirds. However, I just point and shoot most of the time and not watch out my shots. This is a great helpful blog. Following you from A-Z!

    A Ladybug’s Life


  17. Janice says:

    Very interesting! Thank you for the lesson.

  18. L'Aussie says:

    This is a great photography tutorial, beautifully illustrated. I like the Rule of Three for writing too. Thanks so much for this!


  19. I’ve enjoyed having a peek through some of your A-Z posts! Great job!!

  20. Great comments to think about. I am more of a photographer, thanks to my iPhone. These days I need all the help I can get.

  21. Debbie says:

    OH… so that’s what those lines are for!! HA! yep I had no clue, well I kind of thought they were for centering… Thanks to giving me a bit more knowledge on all those lines :)

    Thanks for stopping by my blog too !!

    Have a great weekend

  22. Oh, what a wonderful blog! You very kindly commented on mine and I came in search of you, and all I can say is WOW!!! I think my son would love it, as well! He is very into martial arts – don’t know if he’s tried the double stick thing or not, but it looks incredible! And he was the one who first told me about The Rule of Thirds. I’d never heard of that, either. Glad I have you people around to enlighten me! Good luck with the rest of the Challenge!

  23. Luna says:

    Thanks for the tips!

  24. Sonia Lal says:

    I’ve heard of the rule of thirds, but I usually forget it when I take pics.

    Sonia Lal, R is for Reading, @ Story Treasury

  25. Katherine says:

    Glad to meet you from the AtoZChallenge! I struggle with the photography for my blog, Life with Arie, as most of it is taken with an iPhone, and without any training in photography. I’m glad to know more about the rule of thirds so that I can start trying to do a better job with my pics. Thanks for posting!

  26. michelle says:

    I’m an average photographer…
    Let’s put it this way – I get by… no blurry pics but no showstoppers either!
    I’ve never heard of this rule before. Thanks for sharing.

  27. Interesting stuff that we really don’t think too much about.

  28. Jeanie says:

    I’ve never heard of this. I have a camera that actually makes me look far better than I am. I like taking photos, I was just really bad at it. This is going to help a lot as I experiment. Thanks for this info!

  29. Robyn says:

    I enjoyed this post very much. Dividing an image into thirds is also an amazing way to draw a picture as well. Thanks for stopping by my blog too!

  30. I don’t like to think of the rule of thirds as producing “great” shots necessarily. It creates compositions that are easy on the eye. If your subject matter is intended to cause tension than you are better to break the rule (in an advantageous way) in order to help create tension, as I’m sure you’d agree.

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