The Rule of Tenths is the Photographic Compositional Rule of Thirds on Hard Mode

You’ve obviously heard of the rule of thirds when it comes to composition, but have you heard of the rule of tenths? It’s basically a much more complicated rule of composition. Where the rule of thirds breaks images down into thirds diagonally and horizontally, the rule of tenths goes even further. You go both up and down when breaking your images into ten sections. Essentially, you’re breaking your images into 100 equal parts and composing your images based on those rules. They make a whole lot of sense for things like landscape and architecture, but can become more complicated when working with portraits, street photography etc.

Luckily, Run and Gun on Youtube has a quick tutorial video (embedded below) that teaches you about how to use them. Essentially, you’ll need to be a complete master to get something that perfect. As you can see, my lead image doesn’t exactly make the cut, but it’s not too far off either. If this were based on the rule of thirds, the image wouldn’t be too badly composed. But making the jump mentally from three to ten can be a bit daunting.

Something like this may be easier to do with medium format and large format imagery due to less distortion at any given angle of view.

If you’re a Capture One user, then know that I got this overlay by going to preferences, and then crop. In crop, I was able to select the various overlays and the program lets you put in whatever number you’d like. Putting in 10 for the horizontal and diagonal rows worked to get this overlay.

What is the Rule of Tenths?

Lucky for you the video isn’t that long and can be consumed during a quick break. Be sure to check out other videos from Run and Gun on YouTube.

Chris Gampat

Chris Gampat is the Editor in Chief, Founder, and Publisher of the Phoblographer. He also likes pizza.