Golden Triangle is my most favourite Golden Ratio Composition.

I love how dynamic and live the images gets when following this composition, thanks to the diagonal lines. Let’s have a look at what the Golden Triangle composition is and how it is created.

The Golden Ratio in the Golden Triangle

In the first image, we keep the aspect ratio of 2:3, which is the original aspect ratio straight from the camera. You can see the reciprocal lines are touching the bowl of seeds and olive oil from the top.

The second image is of the aspect ratio 4:5, which is for the instagram. See how the reciprocal lines are moving towards the centre? Now, they touch the bowl of seeds and olive oil from the other side.

The third example is with the aspect ratio of 1:1, which is the square. Notice how the reciprocal lines have moved and met in the centre of the frame and created another diagonal line.

Golden Triangle in Food Photography

As I mentioned, I love this composition, because of the diagonal lines, which create a natural movement in the image and make it more dynamic.

I would say, there are two ways how to use this composition.

  1. you can follow lines to place the objects
  2. or you can place objects within the triangles and make the lines frame the object.

When it comes to the placement of the main subject and other elements, this composition offers you two intersections, which are the best points for the main hero. You can use these intersections to “frame” your main subject, as you see the salad plate, or you can position the hero straight on the intersection, as you see the bundt cake image.

Then, you can follow the lines (diagonal or reciprocal) to place the other elements. But, you can also use the triangles and place the elements inside, as you see the flowers, empty plate, glass and napkin in the second image.

Salad bowl – first example

Let’s see how to use the Golden Triangle in a minimalistic shot.

At first, I positioned my salad plate across the scene, and rotated it a little bit. It adds more interest. I placed it in between the intersections. The lower intersection is touching the spoons. You can notice how the spoons follow the reciprocal line.

Notice how the plate is not exactly in the middle of the frame, but towards the bottom side. It’s because in the upper left corner, I used the bottle with the olive oil, which adds a lot of visual weight. To balance this, I moved the plate a bit lower and placed the spoons on the opposite side of the bottle.

Then, I only used the basic leaves and the top of the bottle and I placed it inside of the triangles, to fill an empty space there.

Bundt Cake – second example

Let’ see how to style a bit larger scene.

This is the image from the masterclass, where I style the entire scene from the beginning, following the golden ratio and golden triangle composition. You can watch this masterclass on this link.

  • When it comes to the main hero – the bundt cake – I positioned it on one intersection. (image 1)
  • Then, I placed plate and fork on the second intersection, a bit further from the scene (image 2). Other props are placed or on the lines, or within the triangle (the flowers, napkin, place with knife and forks and papers from the book.
  • You can see in the last image – I also included a bit of negative space – which I framed into one triangle. I only added a cup with tea to visually balance the entire scene.

Key take-away

  • The Golden Triangle composition is composed by one diagonal line and two reciprocal lines, that arrive to the main diagonal at 90° angle. These lines divides the rectangle into 4 triangles.
  • No matter how the aspect ratio of the image changes, the Reciprocal lines always arrive to the main diagonal at 90° angle.
  • With the aspect ratio 1:1, the reciprocal lines meet and create another diagonal line (from corner to corner)
  • The Golden Triangle gives you two intersections, which are the best points for placing or framing your main subject
  • Then, you can follow the lines (diagonal or reciprocal) to place the other elements, or you position them within the triangles
  • The Golden Triangle can go from left to right or vice-versa
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