A Different View of The Rule of Thirds

When it comes to the rule of thirds, many of us – and especially the experienced professional photographers – know what I’m speaking of.

Taking good pictures with a digital camera can benefit from this way of thinking and positioning objects within the view finder. The human brain reacts favorably, looking at images or objects slightly “off”, versus placing objects dead center. (See the definition of Rule of Thirds here.)

“The rule of thirds is applied by aligning a subject with the guide lines and their intersection points, placing the horizon on the top or bottom line, or allowing linear features in the image to flow from section to section. The main reason for observing the rule of thirds is to discourage placement of the subject at the center, or prevent a horizon from appearing to divide the picture in half”

It is a great photo composition tip, and (always) used when newbies are taught on how to take a perfect portrait picture, for example.

However, there is a ‘deeper’ rule than simply learning how to take pictures. We humans live in the rule of thirds every day, and you may not know it.

Q: How does the silent, invisible, and engaging rule of thirds help me – in my life?

Let’s think about it for a moment. Here are some “3rds” that we can reflect on:

Beyond basic human needs, we have:

  1. Community (Socializing)
  2. Sensory satisfaction (look, taste, smell, touch, hearing)
  3. Information (Awareness, being informed)

Natural laws:

Our human brain remembers, and can use things more easily when organized in logical themes or groups.

Here are further considerations:

  • When presenting a lesson on a topic, the author may write: “Based on what you learned, what are the 3 action steps you now must take?”
  • Present no more than 3 to 7 ideas at one one time, or you will lose your reader
  • When remembering a phone number – we see the logical arrangement of 3 groups in the phone numbers (area+prefix+number) *US
  • Groupings of social security numbers (US) – “XXX-XX-XXXX” (3)
  • Movies, copywriting, story-telling, comedy: Setup, Plot, Punchline (3)
  • It’s as simple as 1-2-3!

(Ok, so I was stretching a little (a lot) in this post, but it was a fun one to write. )

Image via Wikipedia

What 3 rules apply to your own life? (build your own here)


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Entrepreneur Magazine says Jon Rognerud is one of the most sought-after Digital Marketing Experts. His clients extend from high-end brands and middle-tier businesses in both B2B and B2C. His SEO website optimization book, "The Ultimate Guide to Optimizing Your Website" from Entrepreneur Press is in bookstores now.