The Rule of Thirds

Christina Geabhart
Oak Park High School
Kansas City, Mo.

Title: Rule of Thirds

Overview and Rationale – Good photography is often laid out on the rule of thirds. Many great photographers place the subject not in the center but rather in one of the outer regions of a nine-square grid.

Goals for Understanding

  • Students will understand the concept guiding the rule of thirds.
  • Students will practice applying the rule of thirds to photographs.
  • Students will produce photographs using the rule of thirds.

Resources/ Materials

  • Acetate nine-square grids – varying sizes.
  • Newspaper and magazines for example photographs.
  • Cameras and proper accessories

Overviews and Timeline

Activity 1 (90 minute class)

  • Large group discussion on what makes a dynamic photograph.
  • Students Select pictures from newspapers and magazines that they find visually appealing.
  • Students use nine-square grids on acetate to lay over the pictures the Selected from the newspapers and magazines. Check to see if the picture meets the rule of thirds.
  • Large group discussion of the rule of thirds.
  • Conduct Web research on rule of thirds using referenced Web sites, or others.
  • Students can pair up, or join small groups, to discuss their images, why they chose a particular image and how it does/does not meet the rule of thirds.
  • Each pair or group should Select the top three photos that meet the rule of thirds and explain their reasoning to the class.

Activity 2 (2 or 3 – 90 minute classes)

  • Large group discussion to review rule of thirds.
  • Students will be assigned to take a roll of film, or 25 digital pictures. Each student must print at least three images they believe meet the rule of thirds.
  • Students will present their images and explain their reasoning to the class.


  • Rubric – grade the student-produced photograph in relation to meeting the rule of thirds.

References Recommended