Mitzi Ilagan |

When asked to judge a photo, the composition and the general appearance are two things that we first consider. Do the colors complement? Are the lines straight? Does the perspective make the scene more vivid? Even beginners want their photos to look good but there are instances where tools and expert knowledge are required in order to do so. But here’s a technique that even a beginner could take advantage of: the phi grid and the rule of thirds.

It may sound too complex but in reality, it is easy to learn. These two principles are basically grids which serves as guide in taking photographs, but the two have differences.


The Phi Grid is said to be used to create more visually appealing photos that is perfectly balanced from the viewer’s perspective. The grid below shows how a phi grid was used effectively.

Rule of Thirds

The grid uses the ratio 1:0.618:1 which was derived from the golden ratio. You could notice that the intersecting lines are placed closer to the middle of the frame.  The nine-sectioned grid allows subjects to be aligned within the easy-to-locate focal points to create balance and a point of interest. These focal points are considered the perfect division of space within the frame. The Phi Grid may be difficult to achieve due to the alignment, but if achieved, it creates visual harmony. The Phi Grid is best used for landscapes.


The rule of thirds may look like the phi grid, but this one divides a frame equally into nine parts. The subject of the photo, when placed at any of the four intersecting parts, which are considered as “sweet spots,” could make a picture visually appealing, too. This principle is easier to visualize and use because of its equal ratio. This grid also is commonly used in cameras and smartphone applications, as for when the grid is shown, 9 equal boxes would appear on your camera’s LCD screen or your iPhone’s screen. Even when cropping a photo, the rule of thirds as guide is being used. The rule of thirds is mostly observed in photos, probably because it is easier to apply.

rule of thirdsPeople who may not be interested in photography may just see that these two grids look completely the same, but in fact, the phi grid has a narrower middle row unlike the rule of thirds’. Some may just disregard these principles, but when used, it would help create a balance within the elements of the photo. You don’t want your horizon looking unbalanced with the people on the right placed as if they would fall down to the middle frame, right? Whichever grid you use, both would help improve the composition and the overall appearance of a photo, that even someone who’s not into photography could appreciate what you did. As one of the most important elements, the composition should be considered because it could make or break a photo. Also, a little creativity would help. If you’d like to break the rules, then do it. These two principles only serve as guides, but you wouldn’t lose anything if you’d follow it, right?

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