Written by Selbi Rejepova

The Rule of Thirds serves as a foundational principle in photography, offering a framework for composing captivating shots. When you really get the hang of it, It is like a secret weapon that when practiced with intention becomes a guideline for nailing the perfect frame. Rather, it provides a strong starting point for framing your images until you feel confident to explore different approaches and develop your unique style.

If you imagine dividing your frame into nine equal sections by two horizontal and two vertical lines it  would make up The Rule of Thirds grid, which you can turn on or off in your camera settings. According to this principle, placing your main subject along the intersections or gridlines helps achieve a balanced composition with the right amount of negative space.

However, photography offers a plethora of composition techniques beyond the Rule of Thirds. Each compositional principle offers its own visual language, and selecting the right one depends on the narrative and aesthetic goals of the photograph.  

Purple Fish (2022)

The Rule of Odds is all about balancing the number of subjects in your photo. And yes, it does matter when it comes to framing and composition. In this case, an odd number of elements in a scene or a composition, as opposed to an even number, is believed to produce a more dynamic, visually appealing,  and engaging image. For example, when arranging your objects in the frame of your photograph, placing three or five instead of two or four objects, creates a shot that is more captivating to the viewer. The rule is based on the concept that odd-numbered groupings tend to create a sense of a focal point in your image, where your eyes are naturally drawn to a certain subject, where for example, out of three in the frame, your eyes focus on the one in the middle. Our brains tend to want to organize even-numbered groupings in pairs, which shifts the focus of the viewer from looking at the overall shot, and instead organizing objects within the frame. When an image has a main point of focus, as odd-numbered compositions tend to appear as, the viewer would naturally be drawn towards that focal point, and therefore the image as a whole.

Barbie World - Purple Fish (2023)

Symmetry as a compositional guideline is pretty self-explanatory, it’s all about balancing your shot by reflecting one half onto the other. It is essentially a frame where both halves of the composition mirror each other perfectly. Think of filmmakers like Wes Anderson, known for his meticulous use of symmetry to convey visual storytelling. If you ever watched any of his films, they are filled with symmetrical frames that feel meticulously crafted. It's about intentionality. But symmetry isn't a one-size-fits-all solution. Like many other principles in photography, symmetry isn't simply about placing your subject in the center while applying the technique and calling a day. Consider the context, the purpose of the shot, and how symmetry can enhance or detract from it. It's about intentionality. After all, there's a natural geometry to symmetrical images, but the real magic lies in how you blend it with the scene's unique elements and maybe even mix in a few other compositional techniques to spice things up.

The Grand Budapest Hotel (2014)

Leading Lines in photography are like visual breadcrumbs, guiding the viewer's gaze towards the focal point of the image. They can be found naturally in the environment or crafted intentionally to draw attention to key elements within a frame. Picture a winding road leading towards a breathtaking mountain peak or the glow of streetlights overhead directing your attention down a bustling alleyway to a lone figure at the end. These lines serve as subtle cues, gently nudging you towards the heart of the photograph.

Jackson Bridge ATL - Purple Fish (2021)

Frame Within A Frame is a compositional tool that is about finding a secondary element within the main frame that acts as a physical border within the frame of an image .Think of a window framing a scenic view, a doorway enclosing a hidden garden, or tree branches creating a natural archway for your subject. It adds depth and intrigue, inviting viewers to explore the layers of your composition. That iconic scene from Citizen Kane always comes to mind for me. The image opens with the young Kane’s innocent play in the snow outside the window, but as the camera pulls back,  we discover that inside, his parents are making crucial decisions about his future, all while Charles is still seen playing outside in the snow within the frame of that window. It's like a 

story within a story, adding depth and complexity to the image's narrative.

Citizen Kane (1941)

Size Equals Power in photography is just as straightforward as it sounds. It's the concept that whatever dominates the most space in your frame carries the most weight in your image. But there's no one-size-fits-all approach to achieving this effect. In fact, there are countless ways to convey importance or power through size. You don't always need a telephoto lens to emphasize your subject's presence; even a wide lens can do the trick by getting up physically close to the subject, by getting in their “personal space”, which creates a totally different look from the telephoto approach, all while employing the same principle of “Size Equals Power”. It's all about your creative vision. By skillfully positioning your subject, playing with angles, and experimenting with lenses, you infuse your photograph with your unique perspective. You're not just following a rule; you're using it to craft a narrative that's entirely your own.

Disco Glam - Purple Fish (2024)