What Is The Rule Of Thirds And Why Is It So Important in Food Photography?

Rule Of Thirds

What Is The Rule Of Thirds?

The Rule of Thirds is a photography technique that applies to the overall composition of a photograph and where the main subject lies within the shot.  Using this technique enhances the visual interest of your photo and allows you to show off your artistic abilities. 

The best part about Rule of Thirds is how simple it is.  Imagine a photo broken into 9 equal squares.  To do that, you’d need two parallel horizontal lines and 2 parallel vertical lines, all equally spaced.

Rule Of Thirds

How Do I Apply The Rule Of Thirds In My Photos?

Now, to follow the Rule of Thirds, the subject of the photo (or whatever important compositional elements you are capturing) should be placed either along these imaginary vertical and/or horizontal lines, or at their intersections (sometimes referred to as the “sweet spots”).

Rule Of Thirds

The result of this technique is to create a more interesting and eye-pleasing photo.  The idea is that the photo will feel more natural, dynamic and balanced.

Why Is This Rule So Important In Food Photography?

As I mentioned in my post on 18 Food Photography Tips, the eye wants contrast when looking at photos.  Contrast makes what we’re looking at more interesting (read: less boring). To that point, the Rule of Thirds helps you avoid placing the subject directly in the center of a frame.

Your food photography will look more interesting, balanced, and enticing by following this simple rule.

Rule Of Thirds

The good news is that, while the Rule of Thirds is one of the more useful and impactful food photography techniques, it also happens to be one of the easiest to learn and practice. Yay!  All you have to do is imagine the frame broken into those 9 equal squares and then align your subject accordingly.

Rule Of Thirds

Paying attention to and following the Rule of Thirds in your food photography will also help you to notice everything else within the frame.  You’ll start noticing the white space (areas with no real compositional elements) and whether you need to add anything to enhance those areas.

Rule Of Thirds

You’ll start looking at your photo as a whole, rather than just focusing (ha – pun totally intended!) on the main subject.  This will all help to improve the overall composition of your photo and will make you a better photographer.

Breaking The Rule

While this technique is very helpful and makes a dramatic impact on the composition of your photo, it should be treated as a guideline, not as a mandatory rule.  That being said, some photos work perfectly well and, in fact better, with the subject remaining completely centered within the frame.

Rule Of Thirds

This may be the case with an expansive nature landscape shot, a portrait of a face, or even a platter of a whole roasted turkey.  In these cases, breaking the rule will actually help increase visual interest and make the shot more dynamic.  So feel free to break this rule as needed.

Can I Apply This Rule In Post-Editing?

Yes, absolutely!  If you happen to forget to apply this rule when shooting your photos, it’s often possible to “fix” the photo in editing.

Rule Of Thirds

Using a photo editing software (I use Adobe Lightroom), you can crop the image to a point where the main subject is no longer centered.  Hooray for post edits!

Want More Photo Tips?

If you’re looking for recommendations on food photography equipment, check out My Camera Bag post.

If you’d like to learn more about my upcoming course on Food Photography, go here.

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I wish you the best of luck in improving your food photography.  It’s a fun and exciting challenge and I find I learn more (and have more to learn!) every day.   Please let me know what you think of this post below in the comments!

Lacey Baier

Hey y’all, I’m Lacey Baier and I’m so glad you’re here! I’m a healthy lifestyle influencer and the creator of this clean-eating blog and YouTube channel, A Sweet Pea Chef. My recipes have been published on Food Network, Good Morning America, FoxNews, Tastemade, Fitness Magazine, and much more. I live in Dallas, Texas with my husband and four kiddos. Let’s get started!

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