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The Rule of Thirds

The Rule of Thirds

[box type=”1″ align=”left”] EDITOR’S NOTE: In an effort to help parents who are completely clueless about how to take a decent photo, we will on occasion post tips from Shannon Carlson of Photography By Shannon.com.
[/box]If you’ve ever gone to a tourist spot and watched all the different families taking photos, you’ll notice one thing they all have in common; moms do a lot of the photo taking. We are often the gatekeepers to our family’s memories but very few of us have any training when it comes to taking photos. One great “pro” trick is to remember is the Rule of Thirds.

When you look at the picture you are getting ready to take, imagine a tic-tac-toe board over the whole thing. The part of your picture that is the focus of your image should be placed in one of the outside boxes,  or on the lines, but never in the center square. Usually, if you can get the eyes of your subject on the upper horizontal line, you are heading in the right direction.  Almost always, when photographing people, the focus of the picture is the head, or eyes.  In a group shot, you want to try to put as many of the people on the third lines as you can.  With larger groups you will usually have to place someone in the middle box, which is ok as long as most of your subjects fall on the lines or in an outside square.   When doing a full body picture, try to get the head in the upper boxes. When you are shooting a close up, try to get the eyes on the upper third line.

Using the rule of thirds helps your viewer to focus more on the important parts of the pictures and give you a more dynamic shot. Many cameras offer an overlay option that will display the lines for you.  This obviously makes it much easier to see where they are.  If your camera doesn’t have that option, there are also companies who sell vinyl stickers that go over your screen that have the third lines on them.  If you find yourself shooting without either of those options,  try to train your eye to see them by looking at pictures on your computer and drawing the lines on them.  With enough practice, you will be able to just eyeball it and still get good results.

Here are some samples of pictures that use the rule of thirds. Note that in all the pictures at least one eye of the subject is on the upper third line, and I have avoided putting the focus of the picture in the middle box.


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