Everyone knows the Rule of Thirds. Everyone. Including Kroger. That can be a lesson for you.
Among the first photos I took with my iPhone was this frame of vegetables at Kroger. It’s actually frame number 29.
I should have used it during a Ohio Photo Classes session on composition. We talked about the Rule of Thirds as the cornerstone of composition and how it is important enough to be the cornerstone yet static enough to be ignored.
I have no other photo that does a better job of explaining why the Rule of Thirds works.
The photo is divided into near-perfect trisecting elements with two sets of lines breaking the frame into nine sections.
The shelves break apart the horizontal sections. The vertical section is divided along the lines between the three vegetables on the top row.
Without a primary subject at the points where the lines intersect, the photo still qualifies for Rule of Thirds inspection.
What is more interesting is the use of the horizontal sections and how they better play into creating a dynamic composition within the rule. All three sections employ other compositional tools and tricks to craw attention to each subject.
The top row is broken into thirds with the center section flanked by two darker, contrasting colors to the red radishes. The radishes reflect the overhead lights in a more repeating patter pulling the viewer’s eyes to the center of the frame. The outside sections are more diffused, without specular highlights. Also notice that they are different vegetables with different shapes. Having both the same would make the arrangement more static and inhibit compositional movement through the photo.
The center section is an asymmetrical repeating pattern. The placement of the white sections of the onions at the base of the shelf places them behind the small grid adding a slight amount of depth to their location. Each onion’s shape is unique by the placement of the blue rubber bands and how each compresses the bunch. This section of light-toned, repeating, irregular patterns flanked by the small dark frames at either end keep attention at the center of the frame.
The bottom row, composed of darker leafy vegetables arranged in an irregular pattern provide the pedestal upon which the other two sections sit. Its curved placement created an arc that draws you back to the center section and to the radishes at top center. The curved emphasis would have been much less effective if the top row had not obscured the curved railing that held them in and their straight line against the mirror at the rear.
Admittedly, for most people this is just a section of vegetables for sale at Kroger worth nothing more than a quick glance to find the bunch that will match our food palette for the evening meal.
For a photographer, it is a study in composition. Kroger works on a very narrow profit margin. It’s important that its displays draw the interest of consumers and that they are attractive enough to moisten the saliva glands and loosen the wallet.
I can go to Kroger today, more than two years after I shot this photo and these vegetables will be in the same arrangement.
What does that tell you about the Rule of Thirds and marketing success?
The next time you’re looking through the viewfinder trying to compose a marketable photo, think Kroger. Think vegetables. Think radishes, onions, and parsley.