Photography Challenge – Rule of Thirds

Posted on October 18, 2016 by Lindsay

Next up from the 30 Day Photography Challenge from Expert Photography is the foundation of basic photography: the Rule of Thirds!

I’m going to keep up the same format as last week’s post and go through the tips outlined by Expert Photography. First things first:


The rule basically dictates that photos should be split into 9 equal parts, divided by 2 equally-spaced horizontal lines and 2 equally-spaced vertical lines. Important features within the frame should intersect with these lines at some point.

Here is a visual aid of the Rule of Thirds grid:


Though this “rule” is really more of a guideline, it is one of the first things you learn when studying photography. Why? Because it’s very effective at creating interesting composition. It helps to balance your subject and background as well as draw your eye to the most important elements of the frame. Here is a example of how the “rule” helps:

In this first picture, I didn’t pay attention the the RoT composition and just snapped a quick photo (I also didn’t pay attention to lighting or depth of field or anything else but that’s not important here 😉 )


If I wanted to help focus the main points of this photo using the Rule, I would used a grid to help crop the image according to where the main sight lines intersect:


The resulting image is more easy on the eyes. Sometimes just a basic crop job can help tremendously.



When you’re composing your photo with the rule of thirds, then it pays to line up important parts of the image with either the lines or the intersect points.

The important elements of the photo can be a number of things from a person’s eyes to background light. You want to fill your frame by putting the most interesting elements at the forefront while also drawing the eye to other details.


  • The rule of thirds adds depth
  • Intersect import points at intersect points
  • Match up important lines to the thirds lines
  • Be creative and don’t take the rule too seriously
  • Don’t overdo it!

That last tip is very important! Because I was strictly focusing on the Rule for this exercise, I found myself getting a little frustrated when I was editing with the grid. I realized that sometimes you have to follow the line more than the intersection points and vice versa. Trust your instincts when you are reviewing your photos and edit or crop accordingly.

Let’s take a look at how much shoot turned out:


I thought “What could be easier for a Rule of Thirds challenge than shooting with two stationary objects?” But it was harder than I thought! My main issue was composing the shot in frame. At first, I thought it would be easy to crop around unnecessary space but I soon realized it worked much better when I did everything right from the get-go.

For my first attempts, I tried to do a flat lay. Never mind the fact that I didn’t have great lighting for this or that I generally just suck at flat lays. I really like them ( I know they are a huge trend right now but I’m generally a fan) but I don’t ever feel satisfied when I take them myself. These two were difficult because the bottom of the coffee bag was much thicker, causing it to lay at an angle.



I switched back to my preferred method of shooting – head on. I moved the bag and coffee cup around in frame to see how each shot would be affected by the Rule of Thirds – always making sure that the Zeke’s Coffee was the main focus.





Overall, this was a great exercise. Honestly, taking the time to really practice basic skills helps tremendously when shooting everyday. I can’t wait to focus on black and white photography next.

Look for more 30 Day Photography Challenge posts throughout the month

& here’s the full list of what you can expect from the challenge:

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