Portrait 3rds

The ‘rule of thirds’ is a general rule of thumb used in the composition of photographs.

This rule states that the frame of an image should be imagined as if divided into nine equal parts. Two equally-spaced horizontal lines and two equally-spaced vertical lines.

Then, the important compositional elements should be placed along these lines, or their intersections. This effectively creates more tension, energy and interest in the composition, than simply centring the subject would.

As far as I’m aware, every smartphone camera, has the ability to display the rule of thirds grid on the screen. Making the process much easier to apply. (if you know different, please let me know in the comments, below)

Placing the points of interest at those positions, gives a much more pleasing image.

nb. The grid might be called something like ‘Assistive Grid’


An example of Rule of Thirds

As an example of this rule, take a look at the two images below. The first image is presented ‘as shot’ and when you look at the photo, it’s difficult to tell if the subject of the photograph is the road, or the sky.

Road and Sky image


This version on the other hand, makes use of the ‘Rule of Thirds’ and the image has much more impact and it’s obvious that the road is the main subject, which then leads your eye into the rest of the photo.

Road and Sky 3rds image


The Rule of Thirds in Portraits

The rule of thirds can also be used effectively in portrait shots.

This is the image ‘as shot’.



And this is the same image, but adjusted for the Rule of Thirds.

Portrait-Rule of Thirds


You’ll notice that as well as the model’s centreline being along the vertical line, her eyes have been placed along the horizontal line, giving the image much more impact.

Experiment with this rule whenever you can. With smartphones today having more and more storage space, it doesn’t really matter whether you take one shot, or 20. So, you may as well take 20 and choose the best one. 🙂

Composition takes time to master, so don’t be disheartened if you can’t seem to get the results you’d like immediately. The more you shoot, the easier it’ll become.

Practice, practice, practice.


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