Using the Rule of Thirds for Product Photography

This post is brought to you from Melanie of Violet's Buds. Melanie has Bachelors of Science in Photography and provides product photography advice and services to entrepreneurs.

Easily create more dynamic photos by learning to compose your product photos using the Rule of Thirds.
The Rule of Thirds theorizes that an image is most pleasing when its subjects or regions are composed along imaginary lines which divide the image into thirds — both vertically and horizontally, which creates a grid. 

The concept is that placing main elements and subjects near the intersecting lines of the grids creates a more balanced photograph and engages the viewer more readily than one placed directly in the center. 

GipsonWands has allowed me to use several of his images as an example of Rule of Thirds.

center placed subject
As you can see above, the center placed wand photograph is stagnant. The image below of the wand at a diagonal draws your eye from one side of the image to another and is more aesthetically pleasing.

diagonal subject
Many cameras and photo editing programs allow you to turn on a grid to help you decide your image placement.

While its best to compose while photographing, cropping can be a great back up method to creating dynamic compositions.

In the following photo, subject is too close to the center of the frame.  

By utilizing the cropping tool, we can move the subject off center to create a more pleasing image.  

Changing your product listing from a centered shot to an off-set shot may make your work stand out from all the rest by catching a shopper's eye with a more visually pleasing image.

Here are a few photo examples of the Rule of Thirds. These images are captivating, and tell a story or evoke an emotion merely by the strategic subject placement.

In this photo by Opposite of Far, the placement of the subject (the child) an the use of negative space (not the subject, in this case, the backdrop) creates a beautiful image that would be perfect as a magazine centerfold!

Opposite of Far

Lu & Ed utilizes the Rule of Thirds with negative space here - in this image, her rainbow of her best-selling product Mon-stors is off set by 1/3 of the image being neutral, drawing your eye along the edge of the photo and making it her "most liked" Instagram photo ever. 

Crafteroni & Cheese shows her new amigurumi work-in-progess by having it pop diagonally into the frame, crossing the lines of the grid & creating a fun, visually pleasing image.

Crafteroni & Cheese

The whimsical placement of HiTree's product gives off a fun and playful vibe.  This is a great example of using the product to fill 2/3 of an image with 1/3 negative space (the blurred background).

As always, keep shooting and experiment! The rule of thirds is fun to experiment with & see what sort of results you get with it compared to other images. Remember, the subject doesn't have to be precisely in a single column or you don't have to use 2/3 of the image for negative space - just use the grids as guides for product placement. If your camera has a grid option when shooting, turn it on & play around with it to get a feel for how you can use it to improve your product photos. Remember to place your product at intersecting points of the grids for a more dynamic image!

Are you more drawn to images that are centered or images shot using the rule of thirds? 


  1. Thank you for giving the great visual examples. I will try these out on my jewelry photography.

  2. Wow, hadn't even thought about playing with the grid. It was always 'line it up in the middle.' Thanks for the awesome tips-you're amazing