The Rule of Thirds Is Overrated

Perhaps no compositional guideline is more strongly ingrained in the minds of photographers than the rule of thirds. And while it is certainly a useful heuristic, it is not the law, and it is overused quite a bit of the time. This great video discusses why the rule of thirds is overrated. 

Coming to you from James Popsys, this excellent video discusses why the rule of thirds is overrated. No doubt, the rule of thirds is a very useful guideline for creating balanced compositions, but I know a lot of photographers who rely on it almost exclusively, at which point it actually becomes a detriment. There are many ways to compose any one photo, and relying on a single method every time without regard to the individual attributes of the image means you are often missing out on creative opportunities and the chance to emphasize your subject in more powerful ways or lead the viewer's eye on a more meaningful visual journey. Simply put: the rule of thirds is an excellent and efficient guideline a lot of the time, but do not become married to it. Check out the video above for the full rundown from Popsys. 

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9 Comments

C'mon Fstoppers, make some effort for original content, type the title of this piece into your own search box and prepare to be overwhelmed with the results, including articles with exactly the same title, ie https://fstoppers.com/education/rule-thirds-overrated-446622

Josh Thomas's picture

This is a 12 minute demonstration by someone who doesn't understand the very thing they are talking about. It's being shared ironically....right...?

Wolfgang Post's picture

Rule of thirds is still useful. Use the right tool for the right purpose.
What indeed might be the issue that the other composition approaches are simply less known. Now, that can be changed and a few helpful videos have been posted here already. Simply bashing a single rule is quite short sighted.

Matt Williams's picture

People get hung up on the word "rule" when it's really a principle. It's not the law, not a hard rule. It's a principle that you can use, if you want. Like any art discipline, there are tools you are taught, and there are many times they're useful. Once you've mastered - or at least learned thoroughly - the discipline, you can easily go without those tools and create amazing work.

It's just kind of silly how people harp against these useful concepts that no one is forcing anyone to use.

Wow, how original. Another "rule of thirds is overrated" post. Does anybody else feel the strongest Deja Vu whenever they browse Fstoppers? For me — this sort of laziness is exactly why I am never paying for their tutorials. I do acknowledge their value, but I just can't push myself to pay this company :(

Celso Mollo's picture

I would make a comment about this but my fellow members here already said it.

Compose it as you see it. Fine art painters don't follow silly rules; why should photographers?

Wonder Woman's picture

Learn the rules so you can break the rules, properly.

Catherine Bowlene's picture

People say that rule of thirds is overrated every now and then but it's still being taught because it's the basics. Of course, you can shoot with whatever composition and then crop your picture via photoworks or your default phone photo editor but isn't it better to take a good picture right from the start?