Rule of thirds is a well known composition rule. In my opinion it is also one of the easiest ones to master. For this travel photography tip we are going to imagine our image is divided into nine equal parts. Rule of thirds states that we should place our subject along these lines or where the lines intersect.
Notice in the image above that my subject falls where the lines intersect and that the other elements of the image are also boxed into those parts. My mountains, lake and flowers each take up 1/3 of the image.
Rule of thirds composition allows your images to flow smoothly it makes the elements within your picture seem more balanced.
With the image above our eyes our drawn up and across the image to the horse. Our eyes naturally read images just like text – left to right. I recommend putting your subject in the right side of your image if you are using rule of thirds. If I take the same image and flip it you can see when you view it your eye stops at the horse and doesn’t follow through the rest of the image.
Visualizing the grid doesn’t always come easy to everyone. Luckily there are ways you can get some assistance with this.
Camera – Most cameras have the ability to turn on a grid in your viewfinder. With my Sony A7iii I navigate to the second menu and select Grid Line, then select Rule of Thirds.
Now a grid is up on the back of my LCD and when I look through my viewfinder. I can now easily place my subject along those lines.
Phone – I recommend using Lightroom Mobile and the camera within the app to use rule of thirds. The video below shows you how to set that up.
Photoshop – There are sometimes when I just don’t get it right in camera, especially when I am doing self portraits. It is really hard to place yourself perfectly along those imaginary lines! When I don’t get it right, I can crop in Photoshop using the rule of thirds guide there. See the video below to learn how.
You want to place whatever you want the main focus of your image to be along those lines. Here are a couple more examples of rule of thirds compositions.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
About the Author
Beth Mancuso is a portrait and landscape photographer based out of Minnesota. She has been in business as a portrait photographer for over ten years. She has spent the last six years working as an instructor and mentor. Her work has been featured by National Geographic, Huff Post, My Modern Met, Peta Pixel, and Lensbaby. Her work has been published in Click, Midwest Living, and Black and White Magazine. You can read more about her here. You can find a portfolio of her landscape work here. You can find here portrait work here.