So far, I have failed to mention this thing called ‘the rule of thirds’. If you have ever done anything remotely creative, or studied film or photography in any way – you are likely to know what I am talking about. If not, then this concept might be completely alien to you.
It is, in its simplest form, a guideline that applies to the process of composing visual images. It can be broken down in two basic ways. Firstly, that each image works on an invisible grid. Imagine a photo, then divide it into three horizontally by drawing two lines across it at equal distances, and then do the same vertically. If you are taking a photo of a sunset, you are likely to have a horizon line. This is likely to sit across the bottom line on your grid – taking up the lower third of your image. A sunset photo will also have a sun in it. This is likely to sit in the central third vertically, but equally it could sit on one of the vertical lines if there is anything else of interest in the image. This grid assists the composition of the image in a way that is most visually pleasing. It is one of those unspoken rules – one that just kind of happens naturally, and it’s only when you analyse an image you realise you are conforming to the general idea that every photo is made up of three thirds.
The second way you can break down this rule of thirds is less common. You wouldn’t necessarily find that people talk about this as much – perhaps because it seems too obvious? Or maybe it is just lesser known? I don’t know.
But it is that things come in threes. Objects mainly. In interior photography you find this much more. It’s kind of a twist on the basic triangle used in things like shop window design and visual merchandising. Things work well in threes. They are aesthetically pleasing. You have three stools at at the kitchen counter. Three containers on the work surface. A group of three trinkets on the mantle piece. Three pops of colour spaced in a triangular formation in the frame of the image. Something about being a group of three works well with the eyes. It makes it a more exciting and dynamic image and it takes the viewers’ eyes across the entire photo.
I haven’t explained in the best way possible I know – so maybe head to google for a more well-rounded definition. I just suddenly realised it was something I do, and something I come across a lot in photos of interiors. It’s an important part of styling that so far, I haven’t mentioned.
So next time you’re flicking through a magazine or browsing on Pinterest, see how many threes you can point out. They aren’t always so obvious, but they’re there.