To take better photos, use the Rule of Thirds

rule of thirds photography

There are many ways to improve your photos, but one lesser-known way is to use something called the rule of thirds. Here's the basic idea: Avoid placing your subjects in the dead center of the picture.

Instead, if your digital camera has this feature, turn on its grid setting on your LCD so that you see a Tic-Tac-Toe pattern. Then, line your subject up on one of the four spots where the vertical and horizontal lines cross (each of these spots is roughly located 1/3 of the way from the top to the bottom and from the left to the right side of the frame; hence, the term "rule of thirds"). Doing this, instead of placing the subject directly in the center of the frame, usually improves the aesthetics of your image.

Here's an illustration: In the image on the right, the subject is near one of the intersection points to create a more pleasing composition than if the subject were dead-center.

If your camera doesn't have a grid feature, you can get the same effect by eyeballing it: Place the subject roughly one third of the way from the top or bottom of the frame and from the left or right edge. You can also do this in your image-editing program after the fact.

For an added tip, see my post on how to use your camera's flash to take better pictures.

—Terry Sullivan

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