Discover How To Ignore The Rule Of Thirds And Still Get Beautiful Clear Photos

Rules schmules…are there really hard and fast rules to follow when taking pictures? Yes…and no. For professional photographers there are moments when traditions and rules are required, and for all photographers there are those wonderful opportunities to forget about the rules and just have some creative fun.

What rules are we talking about? Everything from framing and perspective to lighting and composition can be challenged in order to produce some excellent results.

For example, when taking a photograph why not simply tilt the camera at an angle. Does this present an interesting view? Not all lines must be straight and in their proper locations, and breaking this rule might introduce some energy or fun into an otherwise standard image. It is important for the photographer to remember, however, that if the rules of horizontal and vertical alignment are going to be broken, they must be totally broken or else the image may just look crooked.
Another rule that can be ignored is “focus”. It really is okay to take a photograph if the subject is blurred; this can create an impression or mood, or may ask the viewer to deeply examine the image. For example, instead of focusing on the child chasing the bubbles, focus on one of two of the bubbles and leave the happy youngster somewhat blurry in the background. While the overall image will be easily understood the portrait will be incredibly unique.

If you’re not one for blurry images, why not use an ISO that is too high for the light, creating a grainy or “noisy” image. Sure, many photo editing programs can apply a filter for almost the same effect, but it is more fun to experiment with the settings to see the full range of natural effects on the subject of the photograph. This is particularly effective with black and white photography.

Feel like challenging the traditional guidelines for photographic composition? Then forget about the “rule of thirds”. While this is an effective method of composing some of the best photographs, it can also present some limitations to creativity, and that is never good. Forgo the three part grid and just snap the pictures as you would like, which means that a portrait with the subject staring straight from the centre of the image is just fine.

Are there other rules for composition that can be safely ignored? Sure, another common rule that can be dismissed applies to “active space”. This means when shooting an image of an object in motion it would usually have space allotted for it to enter into. For example, the football player heading up the field should have some empty space in the frame ahead of him, but by ignoring active space the runner would have the field behind him. This can introduce some compelling energy and anticipation into a photograph.

About the Author

Amy is an multi-award winning photographer from Australia. She teaches enthusiast photographers how to take beautiful, professional photos in easy, plain English. She has a monthly photography emagazine and ebooks to help you create stunning images every time.

Comments (37)

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  1. Mike says:

    Very interesting blog post I really enjoyed reading it and I actually just emailed a link to your site to younger my brother for him to read. He is kind of a freak about this topic. Thanks for sharing I just added your blog to my favorites and will be back :) By the way this is a little off topic but I also wanted to mention that really like your sites layout a lot of sites that you visit these days are all cluttered up with banner adds and you bet the impression that the owner of the blog either does not care about there web site and merely uses it to make money with banners or that the owner is really new to web design and simply does not know how to create a nice layout. Your blog layout is very user friendly you obviously spent a lot of time thinking about the colors and it show. Also the website navigation is also very straight forward and easy to use. Anyway like I already mentioned thanks for the great post and excellent site layout I bookmarked your site and will be back to see what other interesting thing you have to say. Thanks!

  2. Ian says:

    I don’t really worry about the rule of thirds anyway.

  3. Alan says:

    Digital Photo Recovery

    Digital photographs are something that are important to all of us. Most of the pictures we take happen once in a lifetime, which is why they are so very important. From your child s first steps to pictures of your family, photographs are very important. As important as they are, nothing is worse than losing them. This can be very traumatic and frustrating, especially knowing that you ll never to capture the picture again.

    Even though it may appear that the camera malfunctioned, all hope isn t completely lost. There are ways that you can recover your digital photographs, even though you may not be aware of it. Most digital camera s for instance, use smart cards that will store the information. To be on the safe side, you should always safe your photographs to your card, and transfer them to your computer the first chance you get then back them up to a CD or DVD.

    Sometimes, when you have your photographs on your computer, you may move them to the recycle bin and not even realize it. You can always correct this, by right mouse clicking the recycle bin then choosing to open it up. If the pictures are there, simply drag them to your desktop or right click them and choose restore. This will put them back in the location they were in before they were moved to the recycle bin.

    There are other instances where your photographs aren t this easy to recover. If the card in your camera has become corrupted or if your camera has experienced hardware problems, then it won t be so easy to recover your pictures. If this is the case, you should always look towards software or professional repairmen. There is software out there that is designed for most types of digital camera problems, and it can normally recover your pictures in the case of malfunction.

    Most services and software can recover almost all files that you have on your camera, from JPEG pictures to video files. Most people transfer their pictures to their computer as soon as they can, which can be recovered using data recovery methods. On the other hand, those who don t, will need a professional to take a look at the camera. If you don t waste any time and seek a professional immediately, your pictures can normally be recovered.

    Digital cameras are something that most of us own these days, as they take professional quality photos. Anytime that it appears you have lost your pictures, you can turn to software and professional recovery services to get your pictures back. Your digital photographs are very important, which is why you ll want to take care of them. Mistakes and disasters do happen though which is why there are recovery services.

  4. Bob Johnson says:

    A great piece – thank you so much for posting it. I would definitely recommend thet every one else should have a look at it.

  5. Julie Protor says:

    found your site on today and really liked it.. i bookmarked it and will be back to check it out some more later

  6. Angie Taylor says:

    I’ve recently started a blog, the information you provide on this site has helped me tremendously. Thank you for all of your time & work.

  7. Hey very nice blog!! Man .. Beautiful .. Amazing .. I will bookmark your blog and take the feeds also…

  8. du refi plus says:

    Wow! Thank you! I always wanted to write in my site something like that. Can I take part of your post to my blog?

  9. In it something is. Thanks for the information, can, I too can help you something?

  10. UpsTek says:

    Ohh very much thanks admin

  11. This is a really challenging idea to us newbies who are being told to shoot with this rule all the time. I really liked how you talk about the principles of this and how to be open minded.

  12. Jill Bem says:

    Great blog keep up the gret work.

  13. Geoff Nelson says:

    thank you so much to this fantastic information Amy. I’ve always tried sticking very closely to the rule of thirds and sometimes have noticed it can be a little bit restrictive. But I know what you are saying, that if you look at everything artistically then you can really achieve some great photos.

  14. Mannie Fenez says:

    What phrase… super, remarkable idea

  15. Terry says:

    Hi Amy, I just bought your ebooks. Fantastic! They are the best I have ever read on photography, how long did it take you to write them? How did you learn to be a writer and a photographer? I have learnt so much this past week, thanks!

  16. I always thought that you should obey the rule of thirds. Now you’re saying not to do that?

  17. Paul says:

    I don’t normally respond to articles but I will in this case. Intriguing article. Where did you got all the info from? Anyway thank you for this terrific blog post!

  18. Hey very nice blog!! Man .. Beautiful .. Amazing .. I will bookmark your blog and take the feeds also…

  19. Candi says:

    Many people say that the Internet is full of junk, but awesome websites like this prove that quality still exist.

  20. Laz says:

    We are always taught to shoot with the rule of thirds in mind- glad to see that’s just a guide!

  21. mutuelle says:

    I found your entry interesting do I’ve added a Trackback to it on my weblog :)……

  22. Justin says:

    Interesting post, thanks. Can you tell me about the second paragraph more?

  23. Sean says:

    Thank you for a great article. I found that I always follow the rule of thirds and sometimes don’t get good images, I will try what you’ve suggested.

  24. Harry says:

    Fantastic article! I’ll subscribe now wth my feedreader software package!…

  25. Mick says:

    The article is great, I got the idea!

  26. Fiona says:

    Love this website, this article especailly.

  27. Joan says:

    Amy I love your site, thanks for the great articles.

  28. Gerry says:

    Should you always go by the rule of thirds?

    • Hi Gerry,
      When you are learning I think it’s important to shoot with it mind because it will train your eye to work with composition and look at structure. This creates more visually appealing images.

  29. Eddie says:

    Thanks for this Amy, it helped a lot.

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