Composing a Better Photo: Rule of Thirds

Composing a Better Photo: Rule of Thirds #photography via

Rules. Really?

We had rules in school, we have rules in our homes, do we really need rules for our photography?

As you start to study tips for composing a nice photo, one of the first things you might hear mentioned is the rule of thirds. This rule of composition can be found and applied in almost any visual art—graphic design, interior design, painting, drawing, sculpture, or filmmaking.

What is the Rule of Thirds?

Basically, the rule of thirds says that any visual canvas should be divided into nine equal parts using 2 equally spaced vertical lines and 2 equally spaced horizontal lines and that important elements should be placed along the lines or where the lines intersect.

Using the Rule of Thirds via


According to the rule of thirds, the intersecting points and lines are where the eye naturally wants to look in a photo and that by aligning your subject in these places your photo will be more interesting and add more drama.

Here are some examples of photographs using the rule of thirds.

Rule of Thirds - faces via

Rule of Thirds for Composition via

Rule of Thirds in Portraits via

Can it Really Help My Photographs?

Before I really started learning about photography, I am pretty sure I always centered my subjects.  To my mind, it just made sense.  What I was photographing should be in the center.

Then someone mentioned this rule to me.  I started applying it in my photos or when cropping my photos later and I liked the difference it made in my shots.

So, do I think it will help your photographs be more interesting?  YES.

Do I think the rule can be broken?  YES.

Experiment with the rule of thirds for yourself and see what you think. Share your thoughts in the comments.

Gayle Vehar for




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About Gayle Vehar

Gayle Vehar is a photographer based in Utah and the editor of Mom & Camera. All of Gayle's posts are linked up here.


  1. 1

    I think about this often, but then miss the opportunity to follow the rule. It take practice to not center everything in my mind.

  2. 2

    Thank you for this great tutorial! It’s so true – when I remember to use the rule, my photos really do look so much better.


  1. […] you like to shoot by the “rule of thirds”, which I do, my subjects are rarely in the center of the frame. So, what I do is depress the […]