The lesson of the threes, thirds and triangles. Every image you take, the goal should be to create an image that draws in the viewer's eye and let it travel around the frame. If you place your subject in the middle of the frame you will only hold people’s attention for a glance, so to keep them invested in our images we will be talking about the techniques that can help you achieve a more impactful composition. Bigger compositions need more room to spread out, which is why I used this beautiful 24x36 Terrazzo DropAWall backdrop for this exercise.
First, let’s take the rule of thirds, where we are creating a grid to frame to photograph. Many cameras and even the iPhone have an option where you can overlay this grid when you are composing the image to help you frame your shot. The idea is to divide up the picture evenly at ⅓ and ⅔ of both the width and the height, and connect these points with straight lines. If you are shooting a landscape, or any image featuring a horizon line (with food photography this can be where the table surface meets the wall surface) it’s recommended to place it either on the lower or upper horizontal third. If you don’t have a long line in your image you are more interested in the intersections that these lines create. Either of those four spots will be where you want to place your main subject. Like you can see on the image below, the croissant is on the right third curving back into our composition.
Don’t stop here though! While it’s good to have your basic composition worked out when you're staging, find the third you want to place your subject matter on, then you can really dress up the set and make it come alive. The strong compositional lines you created will help your subject stand out more even in a busier, more lively environment.
Now that we have a good understanding of our first grid, let’s move onto the second option. The golden triangles instead of the horizontal and vertical lines deal with diagonals. First, you choose your main diagonal which will be the spine of the image. Connect the other to corners to this spine at a 90 degree angle, these will be your leading lines, and one of the two intersection points created will be where you should place your subject matter, similar to the rule of thirds. Have a look at the image below as a demonstration. The croissant is highlighted by the bottom triangle supported by the top triangle created by the basket of additional pastries.
Even though we now have a nice composition, life is not perfect! So to finish the image I’ve added some messines and texture but yet again, the croissant stands out because of the strong original composition.
At last, just because you’ve set up for a specific composition doesn’t mean that’s the only option you have! For example here is another, different golden triangle composition within the same setting.