Weekly Photo Challenge: Rule of Thirds (EDITED)

This week’s WordPress photo challenge is pretty much Photography 101. It’s a “rule” that I instinctively follow now. Except when I purposefully don’t. In their photo challenge post, WordPress defines the rule of thirds a bit too simply.

The Rule of Thirds is a photography concept that puts the subject of the photograph off-center, which usually results in blank space in the rest of the image.

Wikipedia gives a better definition:

The rule of thirds is a principle of the Golden ratio with broad application as a “rule of thumb” or guideline which applies to the process of composing visual images such as designs, films, paintings, and photographs.[1] The guideline proposes according to the principle of the Golden section search that an image should be imagined as divided into nine equal parts by two equally spaced horizontal lines and two equally spaced vertical lines, and that important compositional elements should be placed along these lines or their intersections.[2] Proponents of the technique claim that aligning a subject with these points creates more tension, energy and interest in the composition than simply centering the subject.

[ . . . ]

The rule of thirds is applied by aligning a subject with the guide lines and their intersection points, placing the horizon on the top or bottom line, or allowing linear features in the image to flow from section to section. The main reason for observing the rule of thirds is to discourage placement of the subject at the center, or prevent a horizon from appearing to divide the picture in half.

I’ve used a photo of mine to demonstrate.

rule of thirds

Here are a few examples of the rule of thirds in my work.


EDITED TO ADD: Bess Jones has a much better explanation at her site: Compositional Devices: Phi, The Rule of Thirds, The Golden Ratio/Section/Rule

Go read.


  1. Dead right Carissa. Ever since man put pen or brush to paper the true thirds principle of dividing the whole with four lines has been , not the rule, but the guide to help composition. WP was over simplistic. Mind you some folk do say rules are meant to be broken….or may be just bent a little!!

    Liked by 1 person

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