The Rule of Thirds

The Rule of Thirds provides a guide as to the most impactful place within the frame to place key elements. Imagine two horizontal lines that split the image into thirds, crossed by two vertical, equidistant lines that split the image into thirds the other way. Placing an image component along with one of these lines or – even more powerfully – on one of the four intersections where the lines meet – contributes to a strong composition.


For close-up portraits, aim to get the nearest eye on one of the top two intersection points. For three-quarter or full-length shots, the subject’s face should be on one of these top two points, no matter whether you are shooting portrait or landscape format. In either case, ensure the focus point is also on the area that falls on the intersection so that this part of the image is the sharpest.

The rule of thirds is beneficial in portraiture, as if you take a landscape shot according to the rule then decide to crop it to portrait orientation, the subject is likely to be still placed on one of the key areas of the frame when the rule is applied again to the new, portrait version.