photography 101: rule of thirds


Hey guys, so you probably know that I love photography. I have always loved it and was always taking pictures as a kid. Then in college I studied Broadcast Journalism where I mostly studied video, but also some still photography. Recently, I took some photography classes at a local college. I thought it would be fun to brush up on some techniques and maybe learn a few things. It was great to get feedback from some “professional” photographers.

I have gotten a few requests to share some photography tips, so I am going to start dedicating Friday posts to photography and my photography 101 lessons. I hope it helps. If you have any requests for certain tips you would like me to share, just email me.

First up: Rule of Thirds
I think most people think that in order to take an awesome picture, you have to have a really nice camera and although that helps make the picture better quality, if the subject(s) of the photo don’t look right, there’s nothing an expensive camera can change. The rule of thirds is more like a guideline when positioning your subject that you are taking a picture of. If you think of the picture with a tic-tac-toe grid on it. The rule of thirds says that if you place your subject on or near where the grid lines intersect, you will end up with a more visually pleasing photo.

A lot of people tend to believe that the best place for the subject of a photo is the exact middle, and even though sometimes I personally like the effect of a dead-on shot. I think it would depend on the photo. If there is a lot of depth behind the subject, like taking a picture down the middle of a street, the subject being in the center makes sense. But it is technically against the rule of thirds. But even in the photo below, the flowers would align with the top horizontal line… so it’s only kind of a rule breaker.

Notice in these pictures below, the subject is on or near one of the invisible grid lines. What the subject is, is up to you. When I took these, sometimes the subject was the burlap, sometimes it was the flowers.

When taking pictures of portraits, make sure the face (or if it’s a close up, the eyes) line up with the top horizontal line.

Another aspect of the Rule of Thirds is that you want to make sure people have “head room” as it’s called in video. There’s nothing worse than a tv interview where the person being interviewed is looking to the left with about an inch of space between them and the end of the tv screen and then there’s tons of room behind their head. In a close up, you want to make sure to give their nose some room. When taking group shots, make sure that you give appropriate head room by lining up the heads on the top horizontal line. When taking motion pictures or when someone is looking a certain way, leave some space ahead of them as opposed to behind them, because there’s no action there. Like in the pictures below, a balanced photo will leave room for the subjects action to occur. In the first picture, our eye stops short because he is cut off. In the bottom picture, your eye is allowed to stay on the picture longer because you imagine the action that will be taken.
A lot of times in editing software like PicMonkey, when you go to crop your picture, a grid like this will show up over your picture, so it can help to make sure that you have things lined up appropriately. And if not, it’s super easy to just crop your picture to make sure that it does look proportional. 
I hope these tips on the Rule of Thirds helped, the most important thing is to go out and practice taking pictures. And it will get easier with time, eventually you will see those invisible grid lines on everything! 🙂
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