Three Rules of Composition


In these images of San Francisco, I will identify three different rules that are present in my photographs. These rules include the Rule of Thirds, Leading lines, and Depth of Field.

Rules of Composition

Rule of Thirds:

This rule says that the subject matter should take up 2/3 of the photo. The rest of the photo should be negative space.

Leading Lines:

Lines in the photo should lead the observer’s eyes toward the subject matter.

Depth of Field:

The subject matter of the photo should be in focus, while the rest of the negative space is out of focus.

Rule of Thirds

San Francisco 324
Captured by David Grimmett 

In this picture of the Golden Gate Bridge, the rule of thirds can be identified.  When you look at this image your eyes look upon that first tower, hence the primary subject of the photo is the largest tower of the bridge.  The area that the bridge takes up is about 2/3 of the image, while the blue sky and ocean take up the other 1/3.

Leading Lines

San Francisco 125
Captured by David Grimmett

There are several leading lines in this shot. The first set of lines can be seen at the top of the photo. Electrical wires above the left side of the street can be seen heading from the top of the image toward the horizon. The street can also be considered a leading line; It paves a path through the city. The observer’s eyes follow the road through the photo until they reach the skyline.

Depth of Field

San Francisco 1037
Captured by David Grimmett

In this picture, the area around the center is blurred. The sunlit boardwalk is in focus, this is the subject matter. The observer’s eyes will skip over the top and bottom of the image and focus on the center of the image.


It’s important to follow these rules in photography because it will help your audience find the subject matter and appreciate the images.

All photos were captured with a Nikon 3400 in San Francisco, May 19-21, 2017.