What is the rule of thirds?

Do you ever stumble across an insanely satisfying social post, but can’t quite put your finger on why it’s so good? Instagram, in particular, can seem like an ocean of perfectly made, aesthetically pleasing images. There are a few key elements you may not be aware of, that are taken advantage of when taking these photos. What are these design choices, I hear you ask? Great question, let’s talk about them.

Rule of thirds

In our previous article, we went over the Top 10 Tips to Have the Best Creative for your Socials, however today we’ll go more into depth around imagery and how to take the perfect photo/video.

The most basic rule of photography that you’ll learn on day-one of any photography course is the Rule of Thirds - a general rule used when composing an image, where objects or people are lined up to a grid structure within a frame. It sounds complicated but you’ve probably already used it when taking photos through your mobile or maybe a point-and-shoot camera.

Rule of thirds

Studies show that when viewing an image, our eyes naturally gravitate towards the points where the lines intersect (as above), rather than the very centre. Breaking up your photo into thirds horizontally and vertically can help create balance and interest to your image.

Ask yourself, “What are the points of interest in this shot?” Start imagining them in a 3x3 grid or, you can turn on a rule of thirds grid on your mobile by going to Settings > Camera > and toggling Grid, pro tip!

Rule of thirds camera

Your subject doesn’t have to hit these lines perfectly, try framing just slightly off centre. Most likely, your audience will naturally read from left to right, this is the same when viewing an image. Positioning your subject towards the right means our eye will naturally scan the image and finish at your desired focal point.

Rule of thirds camera angle

More pro tips; Our phones are just as good as a high-quality camera these days, make sure when taking your photos that you’re in a well-light space. The darker the space, the more grain and loss of detail in your images, as your camera tries to pull light from nowhere. Light-filled spaces will make sure your image is as crisp and clear as possible! Try to shoot near windows or when it’s overcast outside. Direct harsh sunlight can be just as tricky as shooting in a dimly lit space, harsh dark shadows and blown-out whites will result in a hard-to-use image.

Another thing to consider is your background, if you are shooting with a cluttered, messy background, this will give the viewer something else to look at that isn’t your focus. Do a sweep before you shoot, remove anything unnecessary and straighten things you want to keep in frame, this will result in a more professional looking image.

Last tip! What are you shooting for? Is it for a story, a social post, YouTube video? This will impact which way you take your photo, naturally, it can be our first instinct to shoot a photo/video in landscape but this can be an issue if you’re shooting for an Instagram story, turn your phone upright so you don’t have to crop later!

Rule of thirds what is it

If you can get it right the first time it can save heaps of editing time or even avoid a whole reshoot. If you are taking photos for a designer, make sure you take a big step back and give them (the designer), heaps of room to find the best crop for your image. Also! The rule of thirds is made to be broken, so once you’ve got the hang of it, don’t be afraid to play around with different framing styles and always keep your brief in mind! Happy shooting!

Authors: Sage Houston & Bec Muldoon

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