Take better photos with your phone using the Rule of Thirds
Jan 12, 2018 | By: Tracy Allard
The "Rule of Thirds" is one of the first lessons photographers learn when studying composition and I consider whenever I lift my camera to my eye to photograph a puppy, child, family or a vacation photo. It is the basic principle of breaking an image down into thirds like a tic-tac-toe board so that you have 9 parts. When framing your image in the viewfinder, consider placing points of interest on an intersection of both the horizontal and vertical lines, also called "power points".
The reasoning behind placing important parts of your image at the intersections, or along the lines, is to create a more balanced image that allows the viewer to interact with it more naturally. Studies have shown that viewers' eyes tend to go to one of the power points rather than the center of the photograph so using the Rule of Thirds actually reduces tension that a centered subject make create and makes it more pleasing to view.
When using the Rule of Thirds (and don't forget, rules are also meant to be broken, so this is just one consideration in creating a beautiful image), you should always start with this question; "What is the subject of my photograph?" It may be a puppy, person, mountain or tree, it doesn't matter. Where do you want the viewer to look? Once you've answered that, you can frame your subject accordingly and play around with which power point works best for your image.
Let's start by looking at the image below, I've centered the puppy on the grid; meh. It doesn't do much for me. Cute puppy yes, but compositionally it's not very dynamic.
So now let's try putting him on the left vertical axis. It looks better, but because he's looking to the left, I feel like there's something just out of camera frame that caught his eye and now I'm wondering what it was that he thought was so interesting, and I can't see it. That's tension!
Now let's try putting him on the right axis. Ahh, I feel better now. He's looking to the left, there's open space to the left of the image as if the puppy could run across your screen right now; that's where he belongs. A good image will also hold the viewer's attention. Did you find yourself looking at the puppy, then over to the left to see what's got his attention, and then rolling back over to the puppy? Despite it's simplicity, the image is holding your attention (or maybe it's just because it's a puppy!).
So the next time you raise your phone, consider your subject, what's around them and how you can best place them in the frame to please the viewer's eye and hold their attention.
If you'd like to see other great examples of the Rule of Thirds, start by checking out the work of Courtney at CM Bryson, offering pet portraits in the metro Atlanta, Georgia area by clicking HERE and then continue clicking on the bottom each blog post to enjoy an "around the world" tour of some very talented pet photographers; enjoy!
Tracy Allard of Penny Whistle Photography is a Certified Professional Photographer with the organization Professional Photographers of America; a designation held by fewer than 2,500 photographers nationwide and a hallmark of consistency, technical skill, artistry and professionalism. Penny Whistle specializes in both natural light and studio photography providing family and pet portraits as well as corporate headshots and commercial photography in her studio located in old town Carrollton as well as out on location in Coppell and surrounding communities in Dallas – Fort Worth, Texas.