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Photography Composition Hacks – The Rule of Thirds

Updated: May 21

A photo for a blog about the rule of thirds in photography, taught by Jay Ashcroft of four32 Media, a professional videographer, photographer and marketing specialist who works with businesses in barrie, orillia, muskoka and toronto and the rest of North America

Much like any practice, photography is subject to a number of rules – and even further like any practice – rules are meant to be learnt, so they can then be broken or bent.


One of my favourite photography composition hacks is the rule of thirds. It’s likely the simplest rule in photography, and if you follow it (and sometimes bend it), then every photo you take will feel natural and intentional.


Composition is one of those things that you can simply feel – however, if you’re able to use the rule of thirds and feel your way through putting a composition together, you’ll be in good shape.


Every single photo I’ve ever taken uses the rule of thirds. From portraits, to headshots, to architectural photos and landscape shots – the rule of thirds is always used.


Now, I have a setting on my DSLR that lets me place physical gridlines on the back on my screen at all times. I simply look at the lines, and use them to my advantage.


On an iPhone, there isn’t a setting that I’ve been able to find that lets us do this, however there may be an external app you can download that does. If this is the case, please let me know.


Regardless, you can still use your imagination, and keep these gridlines in the back of your mind when your creating a composition. 


Take the back of your screen and split the horizontal plane into 3 equal parts, and do the same with the vertical plane.


You’ll now have imaginary grids running along equal planes to fit objects within.


The next thing to consider here is that there is beauty in symmetry and asymmetry. Symmetry meaning that the area of focus is equally spread across the entire image, and asymmetry meaning that the area of focus is more heavily weighted to one side or the other, or the top or bottom of the frame. Use the thirds on your screen accordingly.


You can either place an object perfectly in the centre of the middle third, with empty space on either side, or you can place an object in the centre of the left or right vertical third line, thus creating a nice asymmetrical image.


This rule also applies to the vertical plane. If you’re taking a close up portrait, keep the persons eyes on the top line of the vertical thirds.


This rule is a science that, if followed within reason, will help to make your photos feel more naturally pleasing to look at.


If you need a hand with any of this, please feel free to reach out.


To Your Success,

Jay Ashcroft

four32 MEDIA


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