Composition in photography is about framing up an image to make for a more interesting and eye-catching photo. There are a few different rules that can help with composition, but like I told everyone when I was in high school, “Rules were meant to be broken!” Ha! 🙂  Seriously though, you know better than anyone what you want, so always trust your gut!

One of the most popular rules of composition is the ‘rule of thirds’. The rule of thirds states that if an image is divided into nine equal parts, the compositional elements that run along the lines or at the intersections are more pleasing to the eye.

It’s more of a rule of thumb than a set-in-stone, absolutely-unbreakable rule. But looking back through some of my “beauty shots”, it is interesting to see how many “keepers” I chose that follow this rule! Here are a few that we used in our Photography 101 class, and from our talk at the Haven Conference.

This also works for portraits and horizontal shots like the images below.

Another cool thing about the rule of thirds is that if you don’t shoot it that way, you can always crop your photo that way with a photo editing program. A lot of photo editing software actually includes the rule of thirds lines when using the crop tool. Either way, the more you shoot- the more natural creating interesting composition will become. Practice is always the key!

What about you? Do you use the rule of thirds when you shoot?


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  • Maureen

    Composition is something I a still struggling with so I appreciated this “rule” as a guideline.  I tend to center everything and it makes for boring shots.  I am working on it and this will help.  Thank you!

    • shootflyshoot

      Thank you Maureen! I think the rule of thirds is something that becomes more natural over time. But there truly is no right or wrong. Hope you have a great weekend! 🙂

  • I totally use the rule of thirds but not on purpose! Just comes natural I guess. 😉 You’re right, things that are centered just don’t seem to be as dynamic. I love your new site!

    • shootflyshoot

      Thanks Adrienne! I don’t think about the rule of thirds when I shoot now. I seems like it just becomes natural over time. I was surprised when I went back and looked at my interior photography how much followed the rule of thirds. It’s pretty cool! 🙂

  • YES!! I love this rule…and somehow my photos always seem more interesting if I follow it!!

    • shootflyshoot

      I know! It’s pretty crazy how objects that fall on those lines seem to look better! 🙂

  • My husband often tells me about this ‘rule,’ but I don’t listen…all I want to do is shoot!  However, after taking several pictures and uploading them onto my blog, I realize it is in my best interest to improve my photo taking skills!

    May I ask, how did you get the watermark on your photos?  Sorry, very new to all this!

  • Julianna Farmer

    I’ve read about this rule before, but never really understood.  Your expanation that the object of interest is at the intersection and your examples makes so much sense to me.  Thanks for finally helping me understand! 

  • Baskitcase1

    Love your suggestion to crop. Thanks!