The Rule of Thirds

By Adam Waltner on January 31st, 2017

The New York Institute of Photography is one of the world’s largest photography schools and because we are, we often publish fun and useful photography tips on our photography blog. Please enjoy!

The Rule of Thirds

Perhaps the most frequently circulated photography guideline, the Rule of Thirds is one of the first things we teach our students about thoughtful composition. For years, it has helped both amateur and professional photographers establish mental guidelines and compositional boundaries when creating compelling, well-balanced images.

Before reading further, it’s important to note that some of the best, most helpful artistic rules are meant to be broken and that no single method of technical composition is intended to be used in every single shot you create. But if you’re ever unsure of how to place a subject or secondary object within an image, an application of the Rule of Thirds can be a very helpful place to start.

Here’s how it works:

The fundamental principle the rule describes is that you should picture your image (before you click the shutter) as a grid made of 9 square portions.

With this mental grid in place, you can now identify 4 crucial parts of the image in which you should most consider placing your chosen point of interest. Generally, if you keep said interest points along the intersections of the mental grid you’ve formed, the final snapshot will have more aesthetic balance and the viewer’s eye will be naturally drawn to the place in which you likely want them to be looking.

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