- In photography, the rule of thirds is a type of composition in which an image is divided evenly into thirds, both horizontally and vertically, and the subject of the image is placed at the intersection of those dividing lines, or along one of the lines itself.
Rule of Thirds
What is the Rule of Thirds in Photography
The rule of thirds is one of the most common rules in photography, and one of the easiest to learn and to use successfully. To understand and use the rule of thirds, simply break up an image into thirds both horizontally and vertically, as seen here. The four intersection points of these lines, and the four lines themselves, are where subjects, or strong compositional lines of a photograph, can be placed to create a strong, balanced image.
Some images use more than one point or line of the rule of thirds, while others will only apply a single line or point to their composition, and let other elements in the image fall wherever they may.
How to break the rule of thirds
Of all the "rules" in photography, the rule of thirds is one of the easiest to successfully break. Framing an image so that subjects or lines don't fall on the rule of thirds areas can still create a successful image, as long as the lines and other elements in the image do create a strong overall image, and capture the viewer's eye using other methods such as leading lines, contrast, color, symmetry, etc.
Many photographs however, even though they do not appear to have intentionally followed the rule of thirds very strongly, may still apply the rule in an approximate manner. In other words, many photographers use the rule of thirds without even thinking about it, or before they even know it is a "rule"!
Examples of photographs that use the rule of thirds
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