Yes that seems to be a lot of rules to follow but it does not necessarily mean that you employ all rules in order to get a great shot. You can also use these to crop the image and get the best output.
Let me explain them in my own words(yes I am really not that techie so please bear with me)
Rule of Thirds
The theory is that if you place points of interest in the intersections or along the lines that your photo becomes more balanced and will enable a viewer of the image to interact with it more naturally. Studies have shown that when viewing images that people’s eyes usually go to one of the intersection points most naturally rather than the center of the shot – using the rule of thirds works with this natural way of viewing an image rather than working against it.
- Make sure that the subject occupies about 1/3 of the frame
- The subject does not need to be really in the four inner dots considered as focal points but rather the subject should be align in or near those points thus an elongated subject does not necessarily be on the focus points but it could be along the lines like landscapes where the horizon aligns with either the upper or lower line.
Such Rule of thirds is actually derived from what is called Golden Ratio.
Golden Ratio is a number that is believed to be a number that is widely in nature. Others term it divine ratio because almost all things in a way follow the pattern this ratio makes. Two patterns I use with my photo edits are Golden Spiral and Golden Rectangle.
The same concept of the Rule of thirds apply where the subject of the photo should fall or be within certain points of the pattern to really bring the viewer’s attention. I was checking my Facebook when I chance to my young brother’s timeline and one of the photos he has is a photo of Geng Medrazo(a model in the Philippines). The photo is taken by Brendan Goco click here to check the whole photo.
The above photo by Brendan Goco is well compose using the the three rules that I have discussed.
Using the Golden Rectangle which is much more like the Rule of thirds pattern, notice that the subject, Geng Medrazo, is not at the center but on the far right. Also she occupies about a third of the entire frame and she is not entire on the focal points but rather along the focal points. One important part of her, the eyes, lies along the upper line and it gives that great effect that directs the viewer to focus on her eyes.
Again using the Golden Spiral, you would see that Geng here totally is within the spirals main focus point and again the eyes lies along the line.
Now combining both Golden Rectangle and Golden Spiral makes this photo by Brendan Goco of Geng Medrazo really well compose.
Disclosure: The above image of Geng Medrazo is the property of Brendan Goco.
I hope this short explanation of the three rules will help you achieve good portraits and other type of photo that you intend to experiment with. For more learning about these three rules go online or in Youtube.com or any other free online sites.