Photography Composition {The Rule of Thirds}

July 16, 2012

in Dana Suggs, Photography Creative Team, Photography Tips, Photography Tutorials

Rule of Thirds in Photography Composition - I Heart Faces

This is the second in a series of Photo Composition tutorials by Dana Suggs. Follow along with the rest of this Photography Composition Series here:

I remember when I first started in photography, I had someone ask, “Why do you waste all that space in your photos? Your subjects are supposed to be centered.”

Goodness, I don’t know, I find it visually more appealing!

And then I discovered, it’s actually a Rule of Composition called the Rule of Thirds! (Never stop learning! HA!)

The Rule of Thirds basically means you are breaking up your image into 3 parts, both vertically and horizontally, making 4 intersecting lines. Here is a visual aid:

The stars mark the intersecting lines that you want to place your subject on. By placing some part of your subject along one or more of those intersecting lines, you bring more focus to your subject. (Which is really what we always want to do, right?)  And for some, it comes naturally, but for others, it takes practice before they understand it.

Horizon Lines:

Let’s look at our horizon lines, you don’t want them cutting your image in half.  But by moving it either above or below, you’ve just brought a little more interest to your photo.

And it isn’t exact, but it doesn’t have to be.  Get as close as you can.  (No one walks around with their grids to ‘check your work’.  I promise.)


Our eyes naturally fall to one of the intersecting lines, even without the grid, so when we place our subjects along those lines, we create interest in the photo.   We are making our photos more visually stimulating and appealing.  Ooooooo…..ahhhhhhhh……


Want to know another little secret?  We read LEFT TO RIGHT (in America, that is, I realize it may be different in other cultures), when we place our subject on the LEFT, it ensures that our subject is noticed first.  Cool huh?

However, if we decide to “break” that rule, by placing our subject on the right, it ensures the viewers eye travels across the entire image to find the subject that is sitting on the right!   (My mom is so proud.)

Now, look for this when you are watching your tele-novelas. Media follows the same Rules of Composition!  Watch your magazines and notice their advertisements.  One of the first movies I saw and really took notice of their Rule of Thirds was Twilight.  (Don’t judge. HA!)  I was mesmerized!  Once you start noticing, it’s addicting!

Be kind and never stop learning!

Dana Suggs is an on-location photographer based in Tulsa, Oklahoma, specializing in Children and Seniors photography. She loves to have fun and finds joy in everyday life. She’s been married for 20 years and is the mother of 3 natural-born children and is a proud foster-parent to 3 more. You can find her on her Photography website, Facebook Fanpage and, of course, she is a PROUD member of our Creative Team for I Heart Faces!



{ 11 comments… read them below or add one }

hassan February 6, 2013



NoorulHuda Daudpota July 25, 2012
mameck July 20, 2012

I love the rule of thirds… I probably over use this technique


Corel July 17, 2012

Are you familiar with the Rule of Thirds? ^LM


T July 17, 2012

Thanks for the great explaination – I’ve always had an eye for this and couldn’t always explain why!


Diva July 17, 2012

I love the rule of thirds… I probably over use this technique :)


Angie July 16, 2012

Great refresher from @iheartfaces on using The Rule of Thirds to add impact to your images! #photography


Dave Bentley July 16, 2012

Photography Composition {The Rule of Thirds} #photography


Declan Mc Glone July 16, 2012

Photography Composition {The Rule of Thirds} #photography


Susi July 16, 2012

I’ve always unconsciously followed this rule to some extent and didn’t know what it was. And now, I definitely have to re-watch Twilight for the 1000th time!!! :)


Ruby @ Focus, Woman! July 16, 2012

Wow, this was a really good explanation of the rule of thirds! I had seen the “theory’ before, read about it, but for some reason your post has brought more sense to it now. Love it!


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