Tips for applying the rule of thirds in your photos

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Have you “given someone the cold shoulder” lately?

These days, Millennials call it “ghosting.” But the original “cold shoulder” expression comes from a social custom in medieval England whereby hosts would literally give an overstaying guest a cold cut of meat to let them know it was time to leave.

Or how about “burying the hatchet?”

This expression comes from Native Americans who would literally bury their hatchets, knives and other weapons before peace talks.

In photography, we have a few borrowed expressions handed down to us, too.

Like the Rule of Thirds, which can be found in centuries-old paintings by all of the greats, like Monet and Da Vinci. Artists basically divided their images into a “tic-tac-toe” grid with nine squares, placing their most important elements along the dividing lines, or at the points where they meet…

For example, have a look at “The Milkmaid” by Vermeer:

By applying the rule of thirds, you can instantly improve your photos...

Notice how the girl’s face and the milk jug are close to, or on, a Thirds Line. In fact, the milk pouring out of the jug follows the line exactly.

The Rule of Thirds is probably the oldest and simplest trick you can start applying to your photo compositions to give them more interest.

Here are a few examples of applying the Rule of Thirds in photography:

It’s easy to place your subject right in the middle of the photo:

Tips for applying the rule of thirds in your photos

… but when you move it to a Thirds Line, even a very simple composition becomes more dynamic:

Tips for applying the rule of thirds in your photos

Here’s another example, where our main subject is right in the middle of the frame:

Tips for applying the rule of thirds in your photos

… this one also becomes more interesting with the subject on the Thirds Line:

Tips for applying the rule of thirds in your photos

Applying the Rule of Thirds to your photos is a fast and fun way to give them an instant boost and make them more attractive to friends and family and potential buyers.

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