It’s hard to believe that Leonardo Davinci painted the Mona Lisa over five HUNDRED years ago. What better example of the brilliant use of a single, prominent triangle to create a stunning and simple composition. But wait you say, “That’s not a triangle, all the corners are cropped out.” Well, guess what, an implied triangle is just as strong as an actual triangle… and if that doesn’t satisfy your naysaying read the evidence which suggests (and I believe) Leonardo’s masterpiece was originally larger, and probably included the entire shape.
Using triangles in your posing
This simple compositional principle is deep rooted in our subconsciousness’ desire for simplicity and completeness. If something is too simple it’s not complete, if it’s too complex it’s not simple… the triangle has the envied position of being the simplest of all the polygons.
The triangle has the minimum number of lines required to ‘close’ the shape and promote it from a simple line to a polygon. Simple and complete, all rolled into a single entity.
As the photographer you have ultimate control of what you show between the four edges of your frame, that is your kingdom to create whatever it is you want. Do you need manipulate your whole photo-taking existence around worshiping the triangle and putting one into every image? Absolutely not, but if you spot the opportunity to invite the serendipitous triangle into your images when the opportunity presents itself then I think it will give your work that extra, subtle blend of simplicity and completeness.
I’m not really sure why these triangles exist, I didn’t really plan them. I think they are just part of a sub-conscious preference towards arranging subjects into triangles, or maybe it’s a sub-conscious attraction I have towards selecting these types of ‘happy accidents’ in the editing process. Whatever it is you’ve probably noticed that a lot of my images tend to feature prominent triangles, here are just a handful. All shot within the last 10 months.
I’d love to read your comments and thoughts about why YOU think triangles improve composition, or if you disagree completely. Comment away!
These are just words in an empty room without your comments... please leave one!
Photographer Jake Garn