The rule of thirds is probably the most important rule to all photographers and visual artists. It is a composition guideline that places the subject aligned to the lines and to their intersection points.
To obtain those lines and points you can mentally draw on your image two vertical equidistant lines and two horizontal equidistant lines. The result will be something similar to a chessboard upon your image. In this way your chessboard will be composed by nine panels of the same dimension and four intersecting point. Take a look to this image to have an idea.
Photography as art as well, should be creative and inventive. But there are some artistic guideline that are timeless and help artists to create a work that is aesthetically pleasing to the eyes. The rule of thirds is probably the most important one of these guidelines.
This composition rule will help you to create balanced and pleasant images. In fact those images composed according with the rule of thirds with the subject placed at those specific point of the frame are more effective visually. In other words your photographs will result more appealing and interesting to the eye.
The rule of thirds describes the points where the lines intersect as the spots where the human eye puts the most attention, where the mind of who is watching the picture searches for those elements that give a sense to the image.
Use the rule of thirds making your portraits.
Making a portrait eyes are probably the most powerful element of a person. A glance can change how a person looks in front of the camera, for example outgoing or distant. This important guideline helps the photographer to give more emphasis to the subject. It divides the image into a grid with nine equal parts, separated by two horizontal and vertical lines. Aligning the subject’s eyes to the top third of the frame you obtain a balanced, dynamic and pleasing feel.
Usually beginner portrait photographers place the subject’s eye line too low in the frame. Or they just place the subject in the middle of the frame. In this way they leave far too much head room in the frame. If you want your portrait to look professional try to place the eye line along the top third-line of the frame. This leaves an appropriate amount of head room, but also puts the subjects’s face slightly off-center which adds interest to the photograph.
The rule of third in landscape photography.
In landscape photography the rule of thirds approach is about positioning the horizon in the correct position in your image. For example, the line divides the ground and the sky.
Putting the horizon on the bottom grid makes more emphasis on the sky, this may be helpful with a pleasing sunset or with interesting clouds at sunrise. On the other hand, aligning the horizon on the top gives more importance to the ground.
Along the vertical lines is where you have to place the elements which you want to give more emphasis, such as a waterfall, a mountain, or even animals.
The rule of thirds is a great way to put in order your ideas and helps you to create balanced and dynamic photographs.