This post is the third in a photography series on improving photo composition. To see the rest of the series, click here: How to Improve Your Photo Composition Series. For your convenience, this post contains affiliate links.
No matter what kind of camera you are using, the best way to improve the pictures you take is to learn how to compose more visually interesting photographs. The last two posts talked about zooming and varying the angles. Today we are going to learn how to use visual triangles.
How to Improve Your Photo Composition: Visual Triangles
Using visual triangles in your photography is actually a lot easier than it sounds to do. I don’t know the psychology of it, but those triangles are much more pleasing to the eye than other shapes like circles or squares. This is part of the reason why in decorating it looks nicer to use an odd number of items than it does an even number.
The trick is to always be on the look out for those triangles in whatever you are shooting. If you’re shooting posed photographs, make sure to arrange your people in triangular formations. If you’re shooting landscapes, find the triangles—I guarantee that they’re there. You can even use the angle of your camera to create visual triangles.
Pose people in triangular shapes
Since I have three children, it’s pretty easy to make sure that they are posed in a triangle.
I can put the tallest one in the middle.
I can put the smallest one in the middle.
I can put them tallest to smallest—which doesn’t work as well as it used to since my eldest has stopped growing and the middle child is quickly catching up to her!
Or, I can put the two taller ones behind the smallest—or the two smallest in front of the tallest. So many possibilities!
There are many other possibilities to getting visual triangles with just three people! Play around with the posing, and you’ll easily find them.
(Why yes, I DO love dressing my daughters alike! Too bad they don’t let me do that anymore.)
Multiple people can also be posed in triangles. It’s a little harder, but you can find fun ways to create several triangles within the photo when you have a lot of people.
You could bunch them all up and have them lean into one triangular shape.
Or, you can stagger the heights so that you get several different triangles. In the photo below of my friends, I also used the angle of the landscape to create some triangles—see the triangles formed by the beach and the water?
What if you only have one person to pose? You can have them do something with their body that will create the visual triangles, such as putting their hands on their hip, sitting in a certain way, or standing in a way that creates those odd angles.
In this photo of my youngest daughter, I created the visual triangle with her body by having her hold up an object with both hands to the side.
Use perspective to create visual triangles
Sometimes the easiest way to get your triangles is by zooming out and getting the perspective to make them for you. Think looking down a long street or down some railroad tracks. The way they are perceived to get smaller and smaller in the distance creates a really cool visual triangle.
Like these train tracks:
Or like this pier—see how the water, the pier, and the green area all make triangles?
Use structures or landscape to find the visual triangles
I had a harder time finding examples of this, but you’ll know it when you see it! This is a photo of my good friend and her son—I did his senior photos this year. I liked how the metal structures behind them create several triangles in the photo.
Angle your camera to create triangles
Last week we talked about angling your camera to make more interesting photos. One of the reasons why this is interesting is because it automatically creates some visual triangles. In the photo below of my daughter, I angled the camera so that the Chicago skyline is set on an angle and the skyline and grass both make triangles.
When you have your camera out, make it a game to find as many triangles as you can and incorporate them in your photo. Look for them in your surroundings, start noticing the different ways bodies and posing configurations can make triangles, and get some cool photos!
Part 2—Vary the angles
Part 4—Rule of Thirds
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