The Rule of Thirds is familiar to most photographers, but it’s not the only way that thinking in threes can help with composition. A group of three objects or figures produces pleasing depth, energy, and repetition in an image.
Why is this true? First, three figures cause the eye to bounce around the image. This “bouncing” produces energetic tension (even-numbered groupings have more symmetry, which can appear heavier and static). Second, a group of three figures makes us look into the image, especially if the figures are staggered. Third, three is the smallest number that can be used to form a distinguishable pattern in our brains, and our brains like repetition and pattern. Too much repetition, though, and we may get bored.
Groups of three are familiar from many mediums, so they may appeal to us on that level too. Groups of three pop up commonly in design, religious imagery, and even storytelling (think of the Three Bears, the Three Musketeers, the Three Billy Goats Gruff, etc.). The number three is so renowned that the Latin phrase “omne trium perfectum” means “everything that comes in threes is perfect” or “every set of three is complete!”Try it for yourself with these tips:
Group three identical objects together
Group three objects together that vary in color, pattern, texture, size, or distance from the viewer
Look for established groups of three in architecture, movements of people/animals, and landscapes
Arrange three found objects to create depth and a pleasing composition
Once you have your images, post them to Muench University. Our group of pros will be waiting with feedback, and we also encourage you to leave constructive comments on each others images!