Why You Should Be Careful Using the Rule of Thirds

The rule of thirds is probably the most common heuristic method of composition, so much so that just about every modern camera and editing program has a grid for its usage built in. And while it can often lead to well-balanced photos, there is a downside to it too. This excellent video tutorial features an experienced landscape photographer discussing why you should be wary of the rule of thirds and how to create better photos. 

Coming to you from Alister Benn of Expressive Photography, this great video tutorial discusses the rule of thirds and why you should be careful employing it. I do not think there is anything inherently wrong with the rule of thirds; rather, I think where photographers get into trouble is that they often employ it without giving thought to the question of if that is the best framing for the composition. Not only is that overly reductive, it makes your work a bit one-dimensional and keeps you from growing and refining your creative voice. After all, composition is one of the most powerful techniques you have at your disposal, so don't fall into the trap of doing it on autopilot. Check out the video above for the full rundown from Benn. 

And if you really want to dive into landscape photography, check out "Photographing The World 1: Landscape Photography and Post-Processing with Elia Locardi." 

Alex Cooke's picture

Alex Cooke is a Cleveland-based portrait, events, and landscape photographer. He holds an M.S. in Applied Mathematics and a doctorate in Music Composition. He is also an avid equestrian.

Log in or register to post comments

I didn't watch the video (because i don't want to listen to some guy yap away), but i just turn off the grid and snap what looks nice to my eye. I try not to worry about rules.

The best example of "Contempt Prior to Investigation" I've seen in years"

Is the video not some guy yapping away? Is it a silent video? If it's a silent video, i stand corrected.

It's a rule of thumb, not a rule of law. The thumb can often reveal something but not always.