Creative Composition

Creative composition is so important in photography. You can take your photos from boring to artistic with just a slight change in your composition. Today we'll talk about one composition trick called the "Rule of Thirds."

When most people pick up a camera, they tend to compose their shot so that the subject of the photo is in the middle of the frame. This is where cameras most easily focus, plus it’s just the default of our brains to look “straight on” at what we’re photographing.

However, following the Rule of Thirds can completely knock this tendency out of the water, and have you creating more professional and artistic looking shots in no time.

Let me be clear: even though we call this the Rule of Thirds, it doesn’t mean that it’s a hard and fast rule. It’s more of a tip to add to your creativity arsenal! Here’s how to use it:

  1. In your camera or phone menu, turn on the grid that divides your screen into six squares. The lines will divide the length of your screen into thirds, and the width of the screen into thirds. This feature is available on almost all cameras, including iPhones and DSLRs. 
  2. The Rule of Thirds simply states that if you place your subject along one of the lines or intersections of these lines, then your photo will be more visually pleasing.
  3. In order to do this, you need to make your camera focus on your off-center subject. On an iPhone, simply tap to focus. On a DSLR, turn on “center point focus.” You will then half-press your focus button down with your subject in the middle, then re-compose your shot so it’s along one of the lines or intersections and fully click down. 

That’s it!!! Your photos will become more visually pleasing, more interesting, and you will become more intentional in your composition. 

You can also use this idea with a regular wall, or anything really. 

The empty space is known as “negative space,” and it creates what we call viewer tension. It does something unexpected and keeps the viewer interested in the image. 

Two more tips:

  • If you have a horizon, place it on either the bottom line or the top line. I love using this for the ocean (see the photo at the top of this page), but you could also use it for any horizon line.
  • Sometimes it helps to have the person or people in your photo facing the negative space; it gives them something to look out into and is pleasing to the eye.

It is so much fun to take photos using the Rule of Thirds. Whether or not you use this for every shot, give it a try! 

Your challenge this week is to use the Rule of Thirds to photograph several scenes. Maybe try one of a flower, and make sure it lands on a point of intersection. Add a horizon into one image, and make sure it lands on one of the lines. Try a person in another shot and have them stand along one of the lines in your image.

The sky’s the limit. Have fun with this one and, as always, let me know if you have any questions.

Peace and Light,


P.S. You know I love life application, so I find some in just about every element of photography! The takeaway for this post is to challenge you to be intentional in your life. Don’t just let life happen to you without thinking about it. Create your best composition. Add interest into the mundane tasks around you. Bring some creativity to your work.  Maybe you have a problem, or maybe you’re just bored.  Take a step back, look at the problem with new eyes, and then intentionally bring your best creative composition to the situation.  Maybe the solution isn't smack in the middle, maybe it's on the edges. Just remember, you CAN create positive change by being intentional. 

My "Looking for the Light: Photography & Life" online course will launch in 2021. Are you interested in learning more about photography? Click below to view more about the course.

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