Photography Techniques: When To Break The “Rule Of Thirds”

Photography Techniques: When To Break The “Rule Of Thirds”

Ever feel like following photography techniques, like the rule of thirds, is very constricting? Don’t you wish you knew when you could break these photography techniques? If so, then here are some tips on when you can break the popular “rule of thirds“.

Photography Techniques Rule of Thirds
I use the rule of thirds a lot when composing my shots because it gives a sense of a “perfect fit” between the subject and the background. Before diving any further into this, though, let me explain the rule of thirds to begin with:


Photography Techniques: What is the Rule of Thirds?

The rule of thirds simply states that the subject matter must be placed on either the left or right side of the photo and not dead center.  The reason for this is because the eyes are naturally drawn to certain points of a photograph called  power points.

Photography Techniques Rule of Thirds

The picture above shows the grid lines for the rule of thirds. Notice how the subject (the Chinese temple) is close to where the two lines intersect. The points where the lines intersect are the power points. (You can see these grid lines on your phone cam or digicams by activating the grid lines in the camera settings.) 

Putting your subject (the one you’re taking a picture of) on or near these power points will give the photo a much more harmonized composition. Simple, isn’t it? 

Now that we know what the rule of thirds is, let’s figure out when to break the rule:

Putting the subject dead center can be very dull if the subject is not powerful enough to grab the attention of the viewer.
Photography Techniques Rule of Thirds
This often happens when the background or other elements in the picture are more eye-catching than the subject itself (especially if the more eye-catching element is placed on the power points.)
Notice how the subject of the picture above does not have many distinct characteristics (even though his wearing a Chinese outfit, the color isn’t distinct from from the guy at the back) to separate him from the people in the background. This is an example of how a subject is not powerful enough to grab attention and is completely overpowered by the background, thus making the entire composition dull.

Photography Techniques Rule of Thirds

This picture, on the other hand, shows how an eye-catching subject can grab the attention of the viewer by putting it at the center of the frame rather than on the side.

Notice how  placing the subject  in the center of the photo makes the picture very dramatic because  the subject draws the eyes of the viewer to its gaze. Since there is no other object at the background, there is nothing that distracts the eye away from the subject.

This is very helpful if you’re looking for a dramatic photograph, emphasizing on the subject rather than the background and works well with portrait shots. However,  you don’t need a plain background to put the subject in the center of the shot, as long as the subject stands out from the background (like how that bold line stands out in the entire paragraph) it should give the same compelling result.

Personally, I use the rule of thirds in landscape photography and when taking pictures of my siblings when we’re on a vacation because it can be visually compelling. The rule of thirds weaves the subject and the background perfectly into a whole photo (good for vacation shots when taking family members and the background together).

So, if you’re an aspiring photographer or are just looking to get some awesome snapshots of your vacation this summer break, then keep these photography techniques in mind. With just a little bit of practice,  you’ll be good to go!

Photography Techniques: When To Break The “Rule Of Thirds”


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