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Friday, April 20, 2012

Challenges of Rule of Thirds

Challenges of Rule of Thirds

One of the most common “rules” that are applied by the amateur and professional photographers is the Rule of Thirds.  The rule of thirds, states that ideally the subject of the photograph should be at the junction of any of the four lines that divide an image in nine sections.

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While, this rule along with rule of Golden Mean have been practiced for a long with and advocated in many articles and books, in real life situations, they become inhibiting factors.


On an average, when photography is done for friends and family, there is no scope of applying these rules. Even in the commercial and industrial photography, there requirements are very much difference and in-fact, most of the situations demand ‘breaking’ of these rules and delivering as per the brief given by the client.

One type examples is the genre of corporate photography, in which photography assignments are given to professional photographers to photo-shoot the top brass of an organization. All the subjects have to be bang in the middle of the photograph and there is little or no extra space to apply the rule of thirds.

The main area of application of the rule of thirds is the fine art photography. Fine art photography is the genre of photography in the photographer has the complete freedom to express his creativity as best he thinks is appropriate to hi target audience.

In nature photography, say of animals and birds, getting the subject at any of the four points of ‘interest’ as enumerated in the rule of thirds is not just difficult but also not desirable. Imagine, a photograph of an eagle flying in the sky with 60% of the photograph filled with ‘empty’ blue sky and the main subject of the photograph the eagle in this case relegated to one of the corners.  

One of the best manners to overcome the challenges is to ‘practice’ breaking it with innovative composition and other photography techniques to highlight the subject and yet no make the photograph contrived. One of the worst practices is to adhere strictly to the rule even at the price of composition and overall aesthetic appeal of the photograph.


Although, aesthetically the photographs look “balanced” there is always the danger of keeping the main subject of the image way off the intersections, relegating the subject to a corner and leaving too much of empty space. This results in somewhat awkward looking photographs and leaves a feeling of incompleteness in the overall visual impact of the photograph.

The challenging aspects of the Rule of Thirds, have been overcome by all great photography legends, who deliver not only world class results but also generate great interest in their work from the critics as well as the target audience. The truly great artists transcend all geographic boundaries and become legends. 

Visit: Industrial Photographer  for many Rule of Third adhered images.