Disappointingly, the first rule of Photography Club isn’t to not talk about Photography Club (that’s the second rule). In fact, the first rule of Photography Club, and one that you’ll regularly see pop up on lists of top tips or in interviews with photographers, is the rule of thirds. But what is it, why should you use it, and how do you make sure your pictures follow it?

What is the Rule of Thirds?

The rule of thirds is one of the basics of photography, and can help to make any image more interesting and well balanced. It’s one of the most useful composition techniques you’ll come across, and can be used in all kinds of photography to help you capture better pictures.

How it Works

Imagine that your image is divided by two horizontal lines and two vertical lines, creating a 3×3 grid. Position important elements near to these lines, or close to one of the four intersections of the grid.

Girl on beach with rule of thirds grid

In this image, you’ll notice that the horizon is also positioned along one of the grid lines, which looks much more natural than placing it in the centre of the shot. The expanse of hazy sky contrasts nicely with the girl in red, whose bright top draws your eye.

Off-centre composition looks less posed than placing your subject in the middle of the frame, and results in more natural looking, informal photographs that are more interesting to look at.

Moored boat with rule of thirds grid

Find the point of interest in your photo and position this off to one side to make your photos instantly more pleasing to the eye.

Dad and daughter with rule of thirds grid

Give it a go next time you head out with your camera and you might be surprised at how easy it is to capture brilliant snaps using this simple rule. And remember, don’t talk about Photography Club…