Rule of thirds timeless technique in film and photos

Last week, I talked about a very current film and video trend—time lapse. This week, we’ll examine a technique that’s hundreds of years old.

When shooting a video or a film, or even taking photography, a lot of technical advice is thrown around.  Some good basics to start with are always shoot in the direction of the light (not against it), be aware of what you can hear (because it will be in your shot), and hold the camera steady or use a tripod.  One of the most commonly references “rules”—and the subject of today’s post—is the rule of thirds.

The rule of thirds is a visual guideline used to create aesthetically pleasing photos.  Essentially, imagine your frame (a rectangle) is divided into thirds, both horizontally and vertically, creating nine boxes.  When framing a shot or photo, the most important visual element of the frame should be placed along the intersection of a horizontal and vertical line.  Also, compositional elements—such as a horizon line—should be placed along one of the horizontal thirds.

The rule of thirds is mentioned all the time, in various visual mediums.  If you’re having trouble visualizing this rule, simply Google “rule of thirds” and some great images will pop up.

And the rule of thirds isn’t a rule for no reason—there seems to be some truth to it.  A straight-away, perfectly centered shot of a windmill, for example, can suddenly become much more interesting when applying the rule of thirds.  Use the rule of thirds in all of your photos and video—even just snapping a quick picture of a friend or a sunset—and many times your amateur photos and video will suddenly look professional.