ERIC KIM

Composition Lesson: Golden Triangle

Let us delve deeper into composition, this time with the “Golden triangle”, also known as the “Golden section”, or the “Golden rectangle”.


Learn the fundamentals of composition

Golden rectangle composition, from free pdf visualization on composition

Download the free beginners guide to street photography, for access to your free PDF visualization series on composition and more.


LEARN FROM THE MASTERS OF PHOTOGRAPHY

LEARN FROM THE MASTERS by HAPTIC

Find infinite inspiration in photography from the masters:

Learn more about MASTERS >

Buy MASTERS on Amazon >


How to draw the Golden triangle

Step 0: start off with your black viewfinder

Basic concept is that you start off with a rectangle (your viewfinder or frame), then draw a diagonal line from the bottom left to the top right of the frame.

Step 1: Diagonal line from bottom left to top right

After, you draw the “perpendicular” line from the bottom right to the top middle, which intersects the prior diagonal line at a 90 degree angle.

Step 2: draw a diagonal line from bottom right, to top middle, perpendicular

Lesson: Your eyes are drawn to the intersecting points, called the “eye”:

Note how the lines are perpendicular at 90 degree angles all around

Now if you want to get nerdy, then you can complete the lines, and you can see how your eyes are drawn to the intersecting points of the lines, which is called the “EYE” (outlined in white).

Or also drawn here:


Golden triangle in bottom left corner

The Golden triangle can also be drawn in different directions. For example, drawn from the top right corner to the bottom left corner:

Also realize, you can draw two diagonal lines which are perpendicular to the primary diagonal. Therefore you have two “EYES”, or visual anchors for your eyes to fixate on:

Also drawn in the opposite direction:

Who sees this in real life?

Now, this guideline is useful for the following reason:

Think in Diagonals when you’re shooting, to create more dynamic compositions.

Also, I think the Golden triangle is a good tool to analyze your photos AFTERWARDS — to dissect and figure out why your photo compositions are good (or not).


To start, let us analyze the compositions of Henri Cartier-Bresson:


Also note, the Golden triangle can be applied to vertical images too.


1. Nude woman in water by Henri Cartier-Bresson

This photo by Henri Cartier-Bresson perfectly shows the power of the Golden triangle:


2. Legs of Martine Franck by Henri Cartier-Bresson

3. Cindy in yukata in Uji, Kyoto:

Dynamic picture of Cindy, with the Golden triangle grid applied afterwards

4. Matisse and doves by Henri Cartier-Bresson

Conclusion

Golden triangle x Cindy minimalist composition

This is just a brief primer, but think about the Golden triangle while you’re shooting, to get more dynamic diagonals, and also use it as a tool to analyze your photos afterwards.

Learn more about composition

Sergio Larrain Compositions

For more inspirational free resources, join ERIC KIM NEWSLETTER and be the first to get exclusive content, access to books, presets, and new upcoming workshops.



SAIGON SATCHEL: The Ultimate Street Photography Bag

LEARN MORE >


HENRI WRIST STRAP

The timeless wrist strap for street photographers.

Learn more about HENRI WRIST STRAP >

Buy Henri Wrist Strap on Amazon >


HENRI NECK STRAP

Never miss the decisive moment, ever again.

Learn more about HENRI NECK STRAP

Buy HENRI NECK STRAP ON AMAZON >


HAPTIC INDUSTRIES: Creative Tools to Empower You

Learn more about HAPTIC >