Rule of Threes

I have this little niece and something she said the other night caught my ear. We were riding in my dad's car on the way back from Panera Bread after all of us having a lot of food, my parents in the front seats, her and her mother in the middle and me in the way back, and she decided she wanted my mom's attention. So she said something fairly normal - "Grandma Betty." It's the number of times she said it that was interesting.

Now, I don't know how familiar, or even interested you are, in the world of art, but there's a concept about the number three. I've heard it called the "Rule of Thirds" or the "Rule of Threes," but the idea is that things happen naturally in thirds or threes.

To illustrate my point, go ahead and take out your iPhone and open up the camera app. Now, in the options button along the top, turn on the grid. This adds some lines to divide up your photos into, you guessed it, thirds. This rule says that the best place for you to place the most interesting parts of your photo is along the intersection points of these lines.

Now, start looking through some professional photography. Maybe look up a documentary of some type. In the latter, notice particularly the placement of interviewees on the screen. They're not in the middle and they're not pressed up against the edge of the frame. If I'm correct, they're right along those intersection points. And it just feels right, doesn't it?

Now, let's get back to the story about my niece. We're driving along and she wants my mom's attention. So she says "Grandma Betty," though when she says it, it sounds more like "Grandma Buddy." But how many times does she say it?

Well, it's obvious by now, but three.

She's very young. I may be presuming here, but I doubt anyone's ever explained this rule to her before. She doesn't know it happens in photographs or comedy ("A priest, a rabbi, and a minister are in a rowboat...") and she probably hasn't noticed it in her Doctor Seuss books (How many times did the Whos shout "We are here" to Horton?). Somehow she just knows that it's natural for things to happen in threes.

There's nothing too practical you can apply to your life here. It's just interesting. Especially because in the last paragraph, without even trying, I automatically gave you three examples of where this rule of threes can occur.