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Mastering Photographic Composition and Visual Storytelling

Lesson 40 of 50

Rule of Thirds


Mastering Photographic Composition and Visual Storytelling

Lesson 40 of 50

Rule of Thirds


Lesson Info

Rule of Thirds

a few 1000 years ago when they were designing. They're rather beautiful buildings. Ancient Greek architects came up with a mathematical formula, which determined the most aesthetic position for doors and windows on the facade. This formula described a ratio that became known as the golden mean and the rule of thirds is loosely based on this formula has become a bit of a compositional cliches. Why? Well, because, like most cliches it holds true, have to show you what I mean. Let's create an image space in this case, a wee white house in an imposing landscape. The basic concept divides this image space in tow, 1/3 portions, both vertically and horizontally, creating a virtual grid. The four points where the lines intersect, known as polar points, are the key based on the maths. An object positioned on any one of these points becomes the main point of interest in this case, the White House. Now this tells the viewer very simply, wherein the image you want them to begin now, what happens n...

ext is equally important. The I am moves from the point of interest into the area of space radiating from this point, which is called the area of interest. Essentially, whatever is in the area of interest gains emphasis of visual elements outside of it. In some ways, the simplicity of the rule of thirds is what makes it so effective, and that the viewer doesn't have to work too hard to read. The visual story at the same time is one dimensional. Nature is its downside. Used in isolation, it creates a relatively static composition. You start at one point and go to another. Now, if you're a novice, is it a good place to start? Well, applying the rule of thirds will turn an image that could have worked but didn't into an image. That's okay. However, at best, the rule of thirds is an overly simplified form of a more complex set of design. Principles on by itself won't take your photography too far beyond ordinary. On the other hand, used in conjunction with some of the more comprehensive gestalt theories, it provides a sound base from which to move forward. So you should use it all the time, right? Well, no. As we've seen in a ruler third composition, the eye is drawn away from the principal subject. What if you don't want the viewers. Attention, toe, wander in this way. What if instead, you want the viewers attention to remain fixed firmly on the main subject? Well, in this case, the rule of thirds is working against you. But don't worry, because in the very next lesson, I'm going to reveal a technique that solves this problem.

Class Description



  • Compose a shot consistently and effectively
  • Create artistic, powerful images quickly
  • Gain confidence in building narrative
  • Identify what stories you’re drawn to photograph
  • Brainstorm and develop concepts for creative shots
  • Trust your instincts when approaching a subject


CreativeLive is partnering with Chris Weston to offer you his Complete Photography Master Course. This is the second class in the series.

Today, everybody has a camera, but that doesn’t mean everyone’s a photographer. Chris Weston will show you how to do all the other stuff – how to “see” an image, tap into your creativity, and compose a photograph that makes the subject look as good in print as it does in real life.

This class isn’t about cameras, it’s about you – the photographer. It will break free your creative mind, get you thinking about narrative rather than object, and show you how to apply simple artistic skills that turn that next click into a powerful photograph.

Learn how to approach photography like a pro and start creating great pictures straight away. With in-the-field lessons, case studies and powerful tips and techniques, you’ll quickly unleash your creativity and gain confidence in expressing yourself through your camera.


  • Beginner photographers
  • First time DSLR or mirrorless camera users
  • Any photographer who wants to hone their artistic skills


Named one of the world's most influential wildlife photographers, Chris Weston takes a contemporary approach to photography. After launching his career in 2001, the Fujifilm ambassador's images have graced the pages of top publications like BBC, The Times, Outdoor Photography, Practical Photography, and Digital Photography. As a photography educator, Chris has written over 20 photography books, along with leading photo tours and online workshops.


Silvia Garcia

Excellent ! Will see it many times to digest all the messages here. Important info on composition theory. Very well explained. Go to the essence of photography. Thanks, Chris !

a Creativelive Student

Absolute must to watch! Perhaps few times, as is packed with all the information you need to know to make your photography to the next level. I think it is the most comprehensive class on composition. Fantastic!


fabulous course no matter how advanced you are.. LEarned so much from it. I'll watch it again as it contains so much.