Rule of Thirds

The rule of thirds is a fundamental guideline in photography composition. It involves dividing the frame into a grid of nine equal parts by overlaying two horizontal lines and two vertical lines. This creates four intersecting points where the lines meet.

The rule of thirds suggests that you should position key elements of your composition along these lines or at their intersections. Placing your subject or points of interest off-center can create a more visually pleasing and balanced image compared to simply centering the subject. It adds a sense of tension, dynamism, and visual interest to the photograph.

By following the rule of thirds, you encourage the viewer’s eye to move naturally within the frame and create a stronger visual impact. It helps you avoid a static or predictable composition and encourages you to explore different placement options for your subject, leading lines, or other important elements within the scene.

While the rule of thirds is a valuable guideline, it’s important to remember that rules are meant to be broken in photography. Depending on the context and desired effect, you can choose to deviate from this rule and experiment with alternative compositions. Ultimately, it’s about developing your own style and knowing when to apply or deviate from different compositional guidelines.

If you take photos with your phone, especially an iPhone, the camera app has grid lines you can toggle on and off, to help you with your composition!

You won’t find an option to enable camera grid lines in the Camera app; you’ll have to go to the Settings app instead:

*Open Settings and go to Camera.

*Under Composition, turn on the toggle for Grid.

*Open the Camera app to confirm if you can see the grid lines on your screen.

I’ve highlighted the grid lines in the photo below:

Grid Lines Highlighted From Iphone

Highlighted are the grid lines, IPhone 13 Pro

Leading Lines

Utilize natural or man-made lines within your photo to guide the viewer’s eye and create a sense of depth or movement. Remember the grid lines we talked about above? These lines can also help with your leading lines too!

Pay attention to your positioning and perspective to make the leading lines more prominent. Sometimes, getting down low or finding a higher vantage point can emphasize the lines and create a stronger visual impact. Move around and try different angles until you find the most compelling composition.

Look for natural or man-made lines in your environment that can serve as leading lines. These could be roads, pathways, rivers, fences, or architectural elements like bridges or staircases. Experiment with different types of lines to see which ones best complement your subject or convey the desired mood.

Leading lines can create a sense of depth in your photograph. Explore how the lines converge or recede into the distance, adding a three-dimensional feel to your image. Experiment with different focal lengths to exaggerate or compress the lines, depending on the effect you want to achieve. On the iPhone there’s multiple cameras, so try each lens to see what’s best for you.


Use elements within the scene to frame your subject and draw attention to it. This could involve using doorways, windows, arches, or natural elements like branches or foliage to create a visual frame around the subject. Framing adds depth and context to the image.

My image below used a rock as an anchor for the frame. Also, the rule of thirds is applied too, as the image can be broken up into ground, lake/horizon, and sky.

Stormy day over Lake Granby, Colorado

Simplify and Declutter

Avoid cluttered or busy compositions by simplifying the elements in your frame. Eliminate distractions that don’t contribute to the main subject or message of the photograph. By removing unnecessary elements, you can create a more focused and impactful image.

If you take a look at my image of Lake Granby above, I could have improved the clutter of the shot by removing the stick on the bottom right. I could have just moved it from my shot, or I can take care of it in post-editing. But, I think that photo would be better if I were to make that update.

Remember, these guidelines are not rigid rules but rather suggestions to enhance your compositions. My goal is to get you to think about your shot before you take it. Don’t just point & click away. If you give yourself a bit of time to compose, frame & make the image look good by finding the right angle, your photos will improve!

So I recommend experimenting, trusting your creative instincts, and adapting these guidelines to suit your unique style and the specific context of each photograph. You’ll be much happier with your results!