Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Reader Question: Rule of Thirds

I recently received a question from a reader in response to my 8 Tips to Better Photo Composition that I wanted to address.
Jill - This is a great article! Thanks! I have one more question - it may be kind of silly, but how does the rule of thirds apply to close ups of people? I was trying to take a look at the witch photo to see how it would apply. I was also looking at the one of your little girl on the steps in the pink coat to see how it could apply here as well? Any help would be great! Becky
Thanks for the great question, Becky!

As for the first part of your question, it is still a good idea to implement the rule of thirds when taking close ups of people. The eyes are key to any good portrait, regardless if your subject is looking at the camera or not. Generally, the trick with portraits is to get the eyes on or slightly above the upper third line. So, in the witch photo referenced (below), I placed my daughter's beautiful little lashes near that upper third line.

As for the second part of your question, Becky, the rule of thirds is also utilized in the pink coat photo below even though I was using it as an example for the vary your angle tip. Now this is a full-length shot, so the most important thing here is the subjects face. If you drew those imaginary rule of thirds lines on the photo you would see that my daughter's face is quite near the upper-right intersection. It might not be exact, but it doesn't have to be exact to get the effect. Also, you would also see that her eyes are again on or slightly above the upper third line.

Side note on the rule of thirds: The rule of thirds is just one of many very effective composition techniques. The techniques that I mentioned in my article can be used individually, in conjunction with other tips, or not at all...sometimes rules are meant to be broken. So, don't get too caught up in always trying to incorporate certain techniques in every photo you take. Allow yourself to experiment and create some new techniques of your own - you might like the results!

Happy snapping!

Stay tuned for an upcoming article on lighting tips!!

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