10 Ways to Break the Rule of Thirds in Photography

Rules are meant to be broken. Today we are gonna talk about how to break the Rule of Thirds in your photography and achieve great results.

But in order to break a rule you need to learn how to follow it. So what is the Rule of Thirds?

The Rule of Thirds involves dividing up your image using 2 horizontal lines and 2 vertical lines, i.e. a 3×3 grid, and positioning the important elements in your scene along those lines, or at the points where they meet. The idea is that an off-center composition is more pleasing to the eye and looks more natural than one where the subject is placed right in the middle of the frame.

I mostly use this rule in my photo composition. But I like to break it sometimes because I wanna stand out. I don’t want all my images to follow the same technique. Also I want them to be different from everyone else’s photos, and everyone else is following the rule of thirds, all right.

So how to break the Rule of Thirds?

1. Symmetry

If you split a photo from the middle and get two identical images, a photo is said to be symmetrical. There are some subjects that have symmetry in them and framing them as per the rule of thirds may look a bit odd. See it looks so appealing when they have a centered composition.

2. Leading Lines

Leading lines are lines that direct the eye of the viewer towards a particular part of the image. When you have such lines in your image, it’s great to compose them in the center so that you eyes are drawn inward towards the subject or infinity.

3. Highlight The Subject

If you want the viewer’s eye to draw directly inward towards the subject without any leading lines, you can frame them in the center. This especially works when there are no or less surrounding distractions or when the frame is filled with the subject.

4. Looking Room

When I frame a picture, I use the Rule of Thirds so that my subject has space to look or move within the image. This is called looking room. When my subject faces the camera, I want to emphasize that it can look anywhere and not a particular side only. So it may make sense to go for a centered composition to give equal looking room on both sides.

5. Sense of Size or Space

Just imagine this scene without my subjects, I can’t figure how far the hills are or how big they are.

And with the subjects to one side, it may look a little off too as I get a sort of void on the other side.

Centering a subject can help you give a sense of size or space as you can compare the size of the subject to the size of the landscape.

6. Square Image Format

In a square size, placing the subject in the middle can look pleasing. It can result in an equal distance to the edges on all sides of the subject.

7. Shallow Depth of Field

Shooting with a shallow depth of field gives you depth in your images. If you use the rule of thirds, maximum area in the image may constitute the blurry background, so it may make sense to use a centered composition to fill up and balance the frame.

8. Simplicity

Placing a subject dead center gives a calm and orderly feeling to an image. It may be a composition that the viewer may easily identify with as compared to an off-center composition.

9. Multiple Images

When you are shooting your images, it always makes sense to click in as many compositions you can think of. Coz you never know what may work. So click an image with the subject in the middle, to one side, to the other, downwards. Go wild there!

10. Creativity

Like I said before, you don’t want all your pictures to follow the same old composition technique. So the best way to experiment is to break the rules sometimes and see the effect.

Here are a few more examples of breaking the Rule of Thirds

The Rule of Thirds makes for a more interesting image but in some cases, centering a subject can work too. But it’s really important to understand why you are intentionally centering your subject before you press the shutter button because knowing and being in control of what and how you shoot is going to be the key to your style.

Also Read – Rule Of Thirds


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