Silver Lining: The Memories Captured Project: Rule of Thirds

January 23, 2017

The Memories Captured Project: Rule of Thirds

Welcome to another installment of the Memories Captured Project, a series designed to help parents take beautiful pictures of their children. See more in the series here.

Today's post is all about the rule of thirds!

What is the rule of thirds?

The rule of thirds is the idea that images are divided into 9 equal sections with two lines that break up the horizon evenly and two lines that break up the vertical evenly. It creates four main intersections in a grid that looks like this:

Studies show that when humans look at a picture, they don't look right at the center. They look at an intersection point, and then their eyes travel to the other intersection points. Almost universally, people do this without realizing or knowing it. It's what our eyes naturally do when we see a picture.

So it follows that the most important part of your picture should lie on one of these intersection points. The lines also give great guidelines as to where to place your horizon or other important lines in a picture. Scientifically, the rule of thirds helps you get a balanced and visually engaging photo.

Some examples:

See how my daughter's face is right in an intersection? This is a great way to draw the eye to where the main action is happening.

Another example of placing a face in an intersection:

If your portrait is more of a close crop, try placing an eye or mouth right at an intersection.

When I'm taking portraits, I always try to place the subject along a line. Like these two examples:

When you're taking pictures of nature, try to line up the horizon or another main focus point along one of the lines. In this example, the cactus is the main focus, so I put it right on a line.

In this one I kept the subjects in the middle, but I used the rule of thirds to loosely position the horizon line.

Do I have to?

The rule of thirds is one of the first things photography students learn. It's a basic guideline you should know for taking pictures of your kids. Do you have to follow this guideline? Nope! Do all of my pictures follow this guideline? Nope! But, as Picasso famously said, "Learn the rules like a pro so you can break them like an artist."

How can I possibly remember to line up the lines when I'm in the middle of trying to take pictures of my crazy wiggly kids?

The good news is modern equipment remembers for you! Even the very old point and shoot cameras have a grid built in to the display to help you line up shots as you take them. And if you don't get the shot lined up when you take it, every single crop tool comes with a rule of thirds grid to help you crop accordingly.


P.S. Will you help me for a second?
Leave a comment and let me know 
what you want to read about in this series.
What do you want to learn more about?
What frustrates you most when trying to take pictures of your kids?

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