It’s quite amazing how much a small physical or technical change can truly define a whole new looking image for your photographs. Whether you are cropping using the rule of thirds or being a little more abstract, it’s always something that we can change very easily. The impact that it has is really astounding at times. So what the heck is the rule of thirds anyways? Why does it create balance in our photographs?
The Rule of Thirds
What does it do?
The rule of thirds is a guideline that just about anyone can follow to compose a good or appealing image. It provides balance, creates energy, tension, and provokes interest to a certain part of a image as well. It can be applied to all forms of art. From painting, photography, and graphic design, it is a great rule of thumb to help you compose your imagery.
Who created this rule?
Many of you may know the infamous explorer John Smith from the story of Pocahantas. Another man named John Smith actually established the concept of the rule of thirds back in 1797. His name was John Thomas Smith and he came to the conclusion that appealing balances of dark and light in a painting or image are usually found to be along lines, breaks, or sections of thirds. So using those lines in a grid like system would help you create a better image overall.
How do you use it?
When composing an image you want to try and visualize a 9 section grid like the one pictured below. With two evenly spaced horizontal and vertical lines, areas of interest or appealing composition can be found on one of the lines or even one of the intersections of the grids. Sometimes you can think of the intersecting points as crosshairs, if you will, to line up your subject or subjects in an interesting fashion. It helps you provide more visual energy to your image in a way that is different from just centering your image.
Sometimes It Can Be More Awesome
When should I break the rule of thirds?
There are many times when I find an image that does not follow any type of rule for composition. These types of images usually can speak for themselves. It’s not only the emotion they can convey on their own, as is, but there are times when we have to forget about all the rules and technicalities and really just experiment with the way an image looks. Sometimes having more vast and open space in an image is more stunning then one with clutter and a precise subject. It is understanding that separate and individual interpretation is much more important that being technically correct when we make an image. It is really up to you whether or not you want to follow the rules of thirds at any point in time, but the rule of thirds is a great tool to compose great shots in a quick and efficient way.
Try to Visualize without the Grid
There are times when your creativity can not be held within the rules of composition standards. When we want to capture a subject or scene to portray what we imagine, we have to sometimes learn to trust our instincts and just try new things. This last image is a very tall image and is not an ordinary crop ratio, but that is why it is also so appealing. It is out of the ordinary and grabs your attention. I encourage you to visualize without the grid when you feel constricted by the grid, but never forget how important the rule of thirds can be for us.