To make dynamic compositions — you must be AGGRESSIVE.
Why rule of thirds is boring
The rule of thirds as a beginner photography composition tool is good. But it is boring, and sterile.
Horizontal and vertical lines aren’t as dynamic and sexy as diagonal lines. Diagonal lines are more edgy, dynamic, and have more FORCE. The more diagonals can integrate into your compositions, the better.
The golden triangle
To make stronger, more dynamic and more aggressive compositions, I recommend using the GOLDEN TRIANGLE— seen below.
See the diagonals, and the intersecting points.
Now, your photography compositions don’t always need to fit this grid 100% with absolute precision. Consider the golden triangle as a flexible framework to make you think about diagonals more.
Here are some examples of how diagonal lines and compositions have more POWER and AGGRESSION:
Study diagonal artwork
Tilt your camera (Dutch angle)
Study Physics — look for diagonals
Diagonals in Architecture
Diagonals with leading lines
Don’t center your subject
Even this picture of me shooting a selfie— I tried to make as many diagonal lines as possible, and putting myself off-center, on the far right of the frame:
A street picture of a woman in Kyoto, with a flash — note how the picture is dynamic and aggressive — I shot very close with a 28mm, head-on, and she is on the far left of the frame— about to exit the frame:
Practice diagonal lines on “still life” scenes
Diagonals in stairs
Diagonals in film, cinema
Study great cinema, like Akira Kurosawa — and look for Diagonals.
Diagonals compositional grids
Use these diagrams to inform your diagonal composition mind:
Golden Triangle x Fibonacci Spiral
Golden Triangle Mathematics
Dynamic Photography Composition
- How to Make Aggressive Photography Compositions
- 10 Dynamic Photography Composition Tips
- How to Make More Dynamic Picture Compositions
- Unorthodox Photography Composition Techniques
- Deconstructed: Saigon Eric Kim Photos
Take your composition to the next level:
- Center Eye
- Dutch Angle
- Deep Depth
- Leading Lines
- Figure to Ground
- Fibonacci Spiral
- Composition by Eric Kim
Street Photography Composition 101
For distilled lessons on composition, read the free ebook: “The Street Photography Composition Manual.”
Further articles to improve your compositions in photography:
- Composition Lesson #1: Triangles
- Composition Lesson #2: Figure-to-ground
- Composition Lesson #3: Diagonals
- Composition Lesson #4: Leading Lines
- Composition Lesson #5: Depth
- Composition Lesson #6: Framing
- Composition Lesson #7: Perspective
- Composition Lesson #8: Curves
- Composition Lesson #9: Self-Portraits
- Composition Lesson #10: Urban Landscapes
- Composition Lesson #11: “Spot the not”
- Composition Lesson #12: Color Theory
- Composition Lesson #13: Multiple-Subjects
- Composition Lesson #14: Square Format
Learn compositional theory:
- Why is Composition Important?
- Don’t Think About Composition When You’re Shooting Street Photography
- How to Use Negative Space
- Street Photography Composition 101
- The Theory of Composition in Street Photography: 7 Lessons from Henri Cartier-Bresson
Compositional lessons from the masters of art