Photographing Kids Tip 2: Rule of Thirds

If you’re a regular at my blog you will know how much I love taking photos.  I invite you to join me on a ten part series (over 10 or so weeks)  in my quest to learn more about photographing my kids. Read Tip 1 if you missed it.

Photographing Kids Tip 2: Rule of Thirds

The “Rule of Thirds” is a theory of equilibrium often used in photography and art.  Whether we are aware of it or not, our eyes often look for a sense of balance in what we see.  This balance can be explained by breaking an image into thirds, horizontally and vertically (see image below). (1)  The basis for this theory surrounds the tendency for the human eye to gravitate to intersecting lines. (2)

I don’t believe this is the only way to take photos but it’s a great place to start.  This “rule” is not meant to be constricting but rather a guide for improving the composition of photos.

This is how I apply the “Rule of Thirds” principal:

1. Pick a focal point along one of the view finder points (red). This centre of interest.

2. Use intersecting lines to arrange the focal point and the background.

I applied this principal to some of my photos.

Example one

These photos are similar.  In the first one, the focus is on the children looking out to the sea.  In the second image, the first rock line, the horizon and the children’s bodies line up up to bring a holistic view to the picture.  When I look at these pictures, the second one is more pleasing to my eye; however, the angle in the first image is interesting so there’s an element of intrigue there.


Example Two

Both these photos are off-centre, yet are beautifully positioned so they hold both intrigue, and balance.  In the first image, the rock line and the boy’s body are balancing features.  In the second image, the eyes and the connection at the head are a focal point. Also the photo is clearly defined in thirds: Mum in first third, Son in second third and grass in the remaining third.


Example Three

In this image, the body line and the tree line bring symetry to the picutre.

Example Four

This is my favourite picture yet.  To me, there’s so much to love.  There are a lot of elements here but the photo still holds its balance. Why?  The body-line and the fence lines frame the boy.  The eyes are drawn to the boy and the slight turn of his head which leads to the direction of the passing train. 

By using the Rule of Thirds as a guide, I’m able to produce well balanced photos with an element of intrigue (well, that’s the plan).

TIP 3:

I’m welcoming a professional photographer to guest post Photographing Kids Tip 3.  I also plan to hold a competition at Tip 10 (if I get there — I mean WHEN I get there).  Who would like to join with me in learning how to make wonderful photos?

Be A Fun Mum Links

Photographing Kids Tip 1: Capturing a Child’s Essence

Photographing Kids Tip 2: Rule of Thirds 

Photographing Kids Tip 3: The Background

Photographing Kids Tip 4: Setting Up a Shoot

Photographing Kids Tip 5: Perspective

My Camera


1. Gestalt Theory and Photographic Composition by Michael Fulks

2. Composition rules for photography based on physiology and psychology of human vision by D V Korablev

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