Challenges of Rule of Thirds

While, this rule along with rule of Golden Mean have been practiced for a long time and advocated in many articles and books, in real life situations, they can become inhibiting factors.
On an average, when photography is done for friends and family, we have not much scope for applying these rules. Even in the commercial and industrial photography, the requirements are very much difference and in-fact, most of the situations demand ‘breaking’ of these rules and delivering as per the brief given by the client.
One example is the genre of corporate photography, in which photography assignments are given to professional photographers to photo-shoot the top brass of an organization. All the subjects have to be bang in the middle of the photographs and there is little or no extra scope to apply the rule of thirds.
The main area of application of the rule of thirds is in fine art photography. Fine art photography is the genre of photography in which the photographer has complete freedom to express his creativity as best he thinks is appropriate to his target audience.
In nature photography, say of animals and birds, getting the subject at any of the four points of ‘interest’ as enumerated in the rule of thirds is not just difficult but also not desirable. Imagine, a photograph of an eagle flying in the sky with 80% of the photograph filled with ’empty’ blue sky and the main subject of the photograph the eagle in this case relegated to one of the corners.
One of the best method to overcome the challenges is to ‘practice’ breaking it with innovative composition and other photography techniques to highlight the subject and yet not make the photograph contrived. One of the worst practices is to adhere strictly to the rule even at the cost of composition and overall aesthetic appeal of the photograph.
Although, aesthetically the photographs may look “balanced” there is always the danger of keeping the main subject of the image way off the intersection line of rule of thirds, relegating the subject to a corner and leaving too much of empty space. This results in somewhat awkward looking photographs and leaves a feeling of incompleteness in the overall visual impact of the photograph.
The challenging aspects of the Rule of Thirds, have been overcome by all great photography legends, who deliver not only world-class results but also generate great interest in their work from the critics as well as the target audience. The truly great artists transcend all geographic boundaries and become legends.