Photography Tips: What Is the Rule of Thirds?

SHOTS! SHOTS! SHOTS! – And no, we're not talking about the alcoholic kind. We're talking about photos and what you can do to take them like a pro! Ever see someone’s photo on Instagram and think – Wow! That was a great shot! Well after you master The Rule of Thirds, your followers are going to think the same thing about yours.

What is “The Rule of Thirds?”

The Rule of Thirds is a basic rule used by all photographers to frame a subject. You may already use this rule without even noticing but even if you don’t, once you know it you will never look through a lens the same way again.

Why should I use it?

The Rule of Thirds provides a focus for the viewer thereby adding depth to the photo.

How does it work?

While taking your shot, apply imaginary lines to divide your shot into thirds, vertically and horizontally. Naturally the eye avoids the center of a picture. By aligning your subject on either side of the center, to the top or to the bottom you give the eye guidance.

Pro-tip: Have the subject intersect at least four squares and that will keep the subject out of the center (i.e. see photos 1-3 below where all the subjects in the photos draw your eye away from the center and are all placed at the intersections).

Looking to capture a shot of the sunset? No problem!

Using the thirds to divide the photo can also work with landscape! You can do this easily by lining up the horizon with one of the horizontal lines. This will automatically clean up the photo. You can play around with the rule of thirds multiple ways, for example having the landscape take up 2/3 and the negative space take up 1/3 (photo 1, 3, 4) or vice versa, having the subject take up 1/3 and negative space take up 2/3 (as seen in photo 2).

Lastly, if you’re taking video, not to worry because this rule applies to both photography and videography!

Ready to get started? Use the grid!

How to Use a Grid on an iPhone

For those of you just starting with this technique and want to know where you can find this feature, you can access the grid feature on the iPhone and the Vsco app. For the iPhone start by going to ‘Settings’ > ‘Photo & Camera’ > ‘Grid: On’ and for Vsco go to the Camera > look at the top left corner and press on the circle of dots  > keep tapping on the second icon until you see a mini grid appear.