When to break the rule of thirds for food photography.

The rule of thirds has been around since 1797 when John Thomas Smith was the first person to write the concept down. After 4 years of photography classes in high school and 3 years of photography classes in college, I can tell you the rule of thirds was being brought up all the time. The idea is to feng shui your picture. You can do this by drawing out a three by three grid on your image. You will end up with 4 intersecting points. The more you learn how to place object on those points, the more enjoyable it is for your viewer to view the image. The rule of thirds most basic concept is to avoid placing objects smack dab in the middle of the image.

When it comes to food photography, there are many reasons to use the rule of thirds and there are many reasons to break the rule of thirds. Most of the time, objects are being photographed to be used as a stand-alone image in a picture frame on the wall, in an album, as a screen saver, etc. Rarely will you see food photography framed and hung up on someones wall. Photographs of food most of the time are being used for advertising for a restaurants, magazines, cookbooks, online websites, etc. There are times when the food image stands alone and there are other times when the image is used with design elements like typography, graphics, crops and other images.

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Understanding what you are taking the food picture for will help you understand how to use or not use the rule of thirds. Here are some picture examples for you. Lets start off with breaking the rule of thirds. Without any typography on this image, the tea cup would be smack dab in the middle of the picture. The rule of thirds would tell you this is a bad thing. Knowing ahead of time that typography will be used, you can leave space for it. Now that the typography is added to the image, it starts to obey the rule of thirds with having content in all three vertical columns.

The fun thing with food photography is getting up close and personal. I find that the closer you get to your food, the more you can get away with breaking the rule of thirds. Here is a picture of the tea bag in the middle of the image which is against the rules. I think it works in this situation because you have all of the props around the tea bag which help frame it into the middle of the image nicely.

Next you have the tea bag where the rule of thirds would suggest putting it but I find in this situation, it's much more boring than when it's placed in the middle.

One of the best things about food photography is the having the ability to play around with your food. Get close and personal with the food and your camera, don't be shy. Understand what the desired end results are for your pictures and then have fun with it. Remember the rule of thirds when you shooting. It will help you make an informed decisions on where to place your subject whether that means following or breaking the rules.

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Posted in Photograph Post Date 06/16/2017


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