Learn about the rule of thirds and how to create stunning imagery for Instagram and other social media platforms

Create Eye Catching Images for Instagram Part 2: Rule of Thirds

Learn about the rule of thirds and how to create stunning imagery for Instagram and other social media platforms

Last month I talked about how to use symmetry to bring power and impact to the images you share on Instagram and social media.

This month I’m looking at the rule of thirds.

Rule of Thirds

Rule of thirds is a brilliant design rule to create eye catching images for Instagram, your other social networks and any imagery you create for your blog, marketing material etc.

So what does rule of thirds mean exactly? Well this is my explanation:

  • The Rule of Thirds refers to dividing a picture into thirds, horizontally and vertically
  • The most important elements of your composition should be placed along the left or right vertical thirds and/or the top and bottom horizontal thirds.
  • Your ‘power points’ are where your lines intersect and where visual magic can happen.
  • Placing objects on these power points gives emphasis and impact to your images and photos.


Rule of thirds explained

Let’s look at some great examples from the ever inspiring Instagram community.


Rule of thirds composition: Couple in Paris

Found on @kissinpariscom

Isn’t this image just sooo romantic?! Placing the couples kissing heads inline with the second level of the Eiffel Tower connects the romance of the moment that is so unmistakably Parisian.

Also note in this image, the illuminated Eiffel Tower, although blurred, focuses your eye and stands out in the predominantly blue image. Placing the couple in the foreground but putting him in a blue jumper and her in a white dress, creates a harmony with the rest of the background (ie the blue sky). The cool couple and the warm lights of the tower are working in synergy.

Rule of thirds composition: Mother and daughter


This beautiful, minimal but touching scene is made more powerful by centering the action in the middle vertical panel. Notice how the left of the horizon is placed perfectly on the bottom horizontal line and the sky takes up the top 2/3 of the image. Gorgeous.

Rule of thirds composition: Rowing Boat


I just adore this image. The unusual angle. The diagonal lines leading your eye from the right of the frame towards the person in the boat. Even the placement of the oar is at an angle that helps lead your eye to the main subject…the hat. This is a perfect example of using a single power point and the rule of thirds, to great effect.

Rule of thirds composition: Helicopter View


Seriously this guys account is magnificent. Limited colour palette, stunning scenery, beautiful people. It’s real Instagram escapism. Not many accounts can claim to literally have a helicopter view in their feed!

Using the left vertical for the main action of the picture is brilliant. But then cleverly the photographer has subtly captured the tallest buildings on the bottom right power point. This is a wonderful, simple, use of the rule of thirds IMO.

Flatlay Compositions

Rule of thirds composition: Flowers and donuts


Ahh Janne’s floral feed is a joy to behold. And this is just one perfect image from many. The donuts interact with the horizontal and vertical lines in harmony and the opposing power points.

What is really beautiful here however, is the twig of blossom that twist through the image from top left to middle right centre of the image. Along with the blossom at the bottom of the image. Literally tying the composition together and drawing your eye around the entire photo. Perfection Janne, I take my floral hat off to you.

Rule of thirds composition: Pink Stationary


This is a fabulous flatlay there is no doubt! And you might not initially recognise this as an example of rule of thirds right? Everything is centred. However, what’s clever about this image is the placement of the sunglasses on the top right power point. They are a real contrast to the rest of the light props which are very white/light in tone.

Placing the dark glasses on the power point, means the contrast of the glasses draws your eye into the picture. There is also a great use of diagonals in this image, which I will come back to in another post. Stay tuned.


Colourful. Fun. Fabulous. Follow the arc from the left vertical third to the top horizontal third. This cute capture features a cocktail glass and flowers. Seriously, what’s not to love. If you want simple flatlay perfection in thirds, this is it.


Rule of thirds composition: Childs Bedroom


I so admire interior photographers because it’s something I struggle with. Give me a flatlay or still life any day. There’s certainly nothing (as the username might suggest), Calamity Jane about this photo. Artfully arranged props and use of the power points are certainly directing my eye around the key areas in this photo.

Calamity Jane are promoting the gallery wall, feeding chair and ottoman so placing them in the right vertical third of the image is working those power points to perfection.

Rule of thirds composition: Bedroom


If you haven’t looked at @olgaprinku’s account yet, you have permission to temporarily leave this post and check her feed out. It’s so charming. Checked it out? Great. Let’s continue.

Note how the dark chair is placed on the bottom left power point which leads your eye into the picture. Then the bottom edge of the floral frame is perfectly placed on the bottom horizontal line. Following on and moving up, the clock is placed against the right vertical line around another power point. Creating that invisible arc around the image we’ve seen before. Olga, your work is stunning.


Rule of thirds composition: Dining Room Table

Yes it’s no secret I’m a fan of Cristina’s. She’s a true artist. I’ve seen her working more with upright still lives (my invented term) as opposed to the flatlay photography I initially discovered and knew her for. Again there’s that invisible arc that moves from top left around to bottom right. But what’s clever here is placing that very dark contrasting bowl near to a power point that draws your eye in and encourages you to move around the picture, towards the flowers.

Now. Notice there’s a dark pencil in the very left hand side of the image, plus the dark line of the shaving brush, all in line with the top of the bowl. There’s more to this picture than meets the eye using colour and shade. Sorry to tease you but we’ll be delving more into this in later posts….

And Finally…

Rule of thirds composition: Invisible arcs

Studying these beautiful photos in this post, we see there’s (excuse the pun) a third element to the rule of thirds.

  1. There’s the horizontal and vertical dividing lines.
  2. There’s power points
  3. But there are also invisible arcs. By using the lines and power points and leaving an element of the picture empty (negative space), we create an invisible arc. Leading the eye around the image.

In my next post I’ll be covering the use of negative space. Those empty spaces in an image that create tension and power.

If you have any questions or Instagram accounts that you think are awesome and you would like me to cover, let me know in the comments below. Or leave me a comment on social media on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter.

Have an inspired day

Georgie x

Read Part 1 on Symmetry

Comments 13

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  1. Wonderful explanation lovely! I also got some more beautiful accounts to follow and will be thinking carefully about my shots. Thank you ❤️

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