THE MAKING OF A GREAT COMPOSITION | RULE OF 3RDS EXPLAINED


Quite often when we look at a photo, we react to it by thinking “this pictures looks good.” Not really understanding why from a technical stand point, but rather just a gut reaction to a photo. That’s perfectly okay if you are just a regular joe who appreciates photography as an art form. But what if you are a photographer, how do you create that image? How do you separate yourself rom all the Uncle Bobs out there who just bought the same camera as you? To add it to the mix, how do you do this in REAL TIME as the wedding is unfolding in front of you?

I want to preface this post by saying that this is no way a tutorial, but rather sharing with my blog readers (all five of you) what I have found to work for me. When I first picked up the camera, intuitively I would offset my subject by approximately 1/3rd. Not really understanding why I was doing it, but I just loved the way my composition looked. “Rule of 3rd” essentially is by dividing up the image into equal thirds; both horizontally and vertically. By putting the focus point in your photo in any of the intersecting lines, it creates a more dynamic composition. To better explain this concept, I have gone ahead and draw in rule of 3rd lines on the images I selected for this post. And I provide technical break down for each image at the bottom of the image. I hope you enjoy it!

In the above image; my lovely couple Justin & April. had just gotten married, and they were walking off the altar as husband and wife for the very first time. I purposely offset Justin & April to the left of the frame to create a more dynamic composition. Another reason is that by leaving some room on the right hand side of the image (where the couple appears to be walking towards) it create movement in the image. Making it more interesting and more engaging to the audience.

Here’s a shot from my international wedding in Taiwan, Taipei. Vita had just exchanged rings with her husband, and her parents were speaking with them. As you can see the expression on the bride and groom’s faces (focus points) all land on 1/3rd of the image.

This is one of my favorite shots from an engagement session I did in Sacramento, CA. . I had the couple sit inside the coffee shop and interact freely. I was shooting from the sidewalk. Again, using the rule of 3rd, I place my subjects a little bit off to the right. But as you can see from the reflection of pedestrians on the sidewalk in the mirror, they also land on the top 3rd of the image. It really creates motion and adds another layer of interest to the image.


I love me a great walking away shot on the beach. This is from the engagement session I did in Laguna Beach.


Another shot from the engagement session I did in Laguna Beach for Freddie & Julie. . In this photo, although rarely, I used the upper 3rd of the image to place my subject. But I did it because I want to capture the rock formation in the background. By elevating my subjects to the upper 3rd, I am able to show more of the beautiful rock in the back.


Pretty self-explanatory. I shot this at the LA Fire Fighter’s Museum. for Justin & April.. In order to get this shot, I was practically on the ground with my 24~70mm F2.8 wide open. I really like how dynamic the architecture is without going into a super-tilt photo.


Rule of 3rd doesn’t only apply to landscape (horizontal) images. It also works the same on a portrait (vertical) image. Place where you want your viewer to focus on any of the dissecting lines.


So if you have been living under a rock, Slumdog Millionaire that featured Dev Patel and Freida Pinto is probably one of the best movies that has been made in the last 10 years. It won 8 academy awards including best picture of the year. But the most important one for me personally is the Best Achievement in Cinematography. The movie stills are incredible learning tools for photographers. Almost every scene is setup with the rule of 3rd in mind. I am showing a few images I grabbed off the internet. And as you can see, whoever directed the cinematography REALLY knew what he was doing!

Man that was a long post! If you like this, please hit ‘like’ this post, vote for your favorite, or share it with a friend!

SHARE THIS POST