STOP Using the Rule of Thirds (It May Be Hurting Your Photos)

We’ve discussed many times what the “Rule of Thirds” is in photography and why it’s such a good tool for creating visually appeally photo compositions but not everyone is a fan of the concept. In fact, some photographers think the Rule of Thirds might be ruining your images if you adhere to it too strictly.

One of those photographers is landscape pro Mark Denney who, in the below video, says you should “stop using the Rule of Thirds because it may be hurting your photos.”

“It's difficult to read, watch, or listen to anything related to photography without hearing a mention of the Rule of Thirds,” Denney says. “The fact that this basic compositional technique is so simple to teach, understand, and apply has contributed to its widespread application in photography. And this overuse is just one part of the problem I have with the Rule of Thirds. So, the next time you're editing your photos I'd encourage you to try what I believe is a better solution to the Rule of Thirds.”

As quick background, the Rule of Thirds is not really a rule, it’s a visual composition guide that says you should imagine a grid of two equally spaced horizonal and vertical lines on your images that creates nine boxes. According to the Rule of Thirds, you should compose your images with subjects of interest at the points where the horizonal and vertical lines intersect.

The idea is this will prevent you from putting the subject dead center in the frame, which is boring, and instead create visual tension and interest off center to draw the eye. By putting your subject off center, it also creates “negative space” or empty areas in your image, which is also visually appealing.

But Denney says the Rule of Thirds is so overused in photo composition these days it’s become boring itself. Instead, he suggests a different method for image composition, which he says is superior to the Rule of Thirds.

Learn all about it in the video below. As an FYI, after some introductory remarks, he begins discussing the Rule of Thirds and his problems with it at about the 1:30-minute mark of the video.