Rule of Thirds What is it? (+ Tricks To Use It)


Who else who least heard of the rule of thirds Not surprisingly, this composition rule It is one of the most applied in photography. Now, do you know what it is? Do you know how to use it or what is its origin? In the following lines I will give you all the information you need to apply it successfully in your compositions, but if you want to delve into photographic composition and learn all the tips and tricks for some of the most impressive photographs, take a look at this mega guide that We have prepared you.

Origin of the rule of thirds

The rule of thirds comes to be the simplification of the proportions of the Golden Section, based on the harmony that governs certain patterns of nature such as leaves, snails, or other natural forms.

golden ratio leaf

The golden ratio is based on an irrational algebraic number resulting from linking two segments of a straight line. Its decimal representation is infinite and has no period, even mystical properties are associated with it, linked to the perfection of its proportions.

golden ratio

The golden ratio has been used over the years by different advanced cultures to compose and design from paintings, sculptures or monuments.

The rule of thirds It is inspired by the golden ratio and is one of the most used composition rules in photography and in general in other visual arts such as painting or cinema. It mainly serves us to order the objects within the frame.

What is the rule of thirds?

This rule is based on the idea that there are certain areas in the image where we naturally direct our gaze. We call these areas “strong points”.

The strengths of an image originate by dividing the scene rectangular in two horizontal and two vertical lines as I show you below:

The point where the vertical and horizontal lines intersect is the strong point of photography, where our gaze naturally goes.

And it is in those strong points of the scene that you must place your leading subject. This will naturally add interest and guide the viewer’s gaze.

How to apply it

Most cameras and editing programs have a Grid which represents the lines of the rule of thirds. To familiarize yourself with it, you can have it activated for a while until you get used to this type of composition.

The rule of thirds can be applied to any type of photography, but where it is most common to see it is in portraits, product photography or landscape, among others.

in portraits

There is no single way to compose a portrait, far from it, even based solely on the rule of thirds. You will also have to decide where you want the image to “breathe”, etc.

If you work with a foreground like the one in the example, what we usually place in the strong point of the frame is the look.

If you work with wider shots, try to place the entire subject in one of the strong points. The rule of thirds in portraiture is often combined with the law of the gaze, that seeks to give air or space to the scene in the place where the gaze is directed.

in landscapes

Landscapes are a compositional challenge, because it is not always easy to capture the beauty of a landscape in a two-dimensional image. To help us achieve this, we have to do it through composition.

The rule of thirds will help you to stop the viewer’s gaze somewhere in your image and prevent the gaze from wandering aimlessly through the rest of the image. It can also help you add three-dimensionality to the scene, if you place the point of interest at a point closer to your objective. It is also often combined in some cases with the law of the horizon (which says that you have to occupy 2/3 of the image with what you are most interested in highlighting: sky or earth)

in product photography

In this type of images where the composition can be applied over time and therefore it is requested that it be meditated, this type of composition gives good results. In product photography, without a doubt, it is used a lot.

You can combine it with negative space. Combine it with some good color work.

Images based on the rule of thirds

If you expand them one by one, you will see that they are all based on the rule of thirds. As you will see, it can be applied both vertically and horizontally and to different types of images.


If only everything was so easy, right? Well, the truth is that, like everything, what is repeated is boring, as simple as that.

My main advice is that it should not be abused, especially when the composition is very simple. In these cases this rule is very notorious and surprises us little. An image should never be based (in my opinion) on a single compositional decision, which can also be a mistake.

Let me explain, if an image is visually very simple, the element that appears has little interest, and is only composed by being located in the strong point, it is a bland image.

On the other hand, if you combine different elements of compositional interest, such as an image with an interesting imbalance, a surprising point of view, attractive colors, symmetry, a natural setting, a shadow or a fascinating protagonist… this rule can work for you. very good.

dog rule of thirds

What do you think? Did you already apply it to your images? It is one of the most used rules and it is no coincidence, well applied it works very well, so you know, to mess with it, to take full advantage of it and discard it when necessary 😉

We read soon. Oh, and don’t forget to share this article with those who you think might be interested in reading it 🙂 Thank you and until next time.

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