When people say they’re “creatives” in a business sense it quite simply means “I create some form of visual content, that’s usually quite pretty”. As with anything, being naturally creative and having “the eye” for making things look good takes a lot of time and practice.
However, picking up the basics isn’t as mountainous of a task as some make it out to be. I’m not trying to undermine creatives here at all (as an avid photographer myself), but once you know the basics, you can start making well-informed decisions about how you create your content.
Once you know the rules, sticking to them will generally produce good solid content. Of course, to progress and stand out you also need to do a fair bit of experimenting with the rules and see how far you can push the boundaries.
Speaking of rules, let’s talk about arguably the most important of them all – The Rule Of Thirds.
I’m sure you’ve heard everyone talk about this before, again and again. But there’s good reason for it. One of the most important things about a piece of visual content is how it’s set out, as that’s a big part of “how it looks”. If it looks messy, it won’t portray any professionalism, however if it’s neat, tidy and organised, people will instantly get a good impression.
The grid that everyone references looks like this and is used to compose photos, images, designs, and most visual content. For photo taking, you can use the lines to separate out your picture (bottom third foreground, middle third midground/focus, top third background for example) which would make your photos look a lot less chaotic and more organised.
Or an alternative use case could be taking the cross points of the lines, and making them a new focal point. This would offset your photo slightly, and put emphasis on the larger, emptier section of the photo. For example:
This photo now becomes “a bird sitting on a rock, looking out over the water” whereas if the bird was at the centre, it might just be “a bird on a rock”.
Using the rule of thirds effectively means you can make decisions on how you want your photo to be composed, to make them stand out a little more. But this isn’t a photo specific technique, oh no. You can use this in your online designs, social media content, paintings, anywhere! Just take a look at these examples below:
Both of these examples place one of the focuses on a vertical line, so that it takes up roughly two-thirds, and the other third is taken up by the rest of the design. As we read left to right, the most important information is put on the left to get the information and details across, whilst the no so important content is on the right. The content on the right is still important, but it isn’t the focus, it just helps to convey the message and theme of the piece.
Furthermore, the magazine spread places the heading of the text in the centre third of the design showing its importance, and the website banner is the same. The time, date, and title of the event is in the centre horizontal section to make sure people see it, read it, and remember.
The rule of thirds is literally everywhere, magazines, websites, photos, the list is endless. Next time you’re browsing the internet keep an eye out and see if you can spot any rule of thirds. Hopefully this has helped to outline the importance of this simple technique, and helped you understand how you can use it in your content!