Photography Composition: The Golden Triangle Rule

Unlike technical aspects of photography, artistic aspects cannot really be easily defined and applied to every photo. Probably the most important element of any photograph is its composition. The composition is what makes or breaks your photograph and yet not every composition rule will work well with every photo. It’s up to you to decide what works the best. However, two things will always work well: simplicity and balance. Decide what your photo is about; what do you want to be the center of the visual interest; what your subject is and what’s not; and compose the photo accordingly.There are several composition rules. I wrote about the rule of thirds here. Another important composition rule is the golden triangle rule.

The golden triangle is pretty simple and works the best with lines but almost every photo will benefit from applying it.  All you have to do it to imagine lines going through your photo. The image below shows two large triangles (the top one – lighter blue one, and the bottom one – darker blue one).

Now, imagine drawing a line from the corner of the image towards the central line (under 90 degree angle). That line will form two more triangles which is a total of three triangles – large one and two smaller ones. All you have to do it to frame your shot so that your subject fills one of these three triangles. The framing does not have to be precise; a rough framing will do just fine.

The Golden Triangle Rule
You can see in my photo below what works the best. I took this photo in Pompeii, Italy. The first one is the original one while the other two are manipulated to help me show you how applying the golden triangle rule benefits your composition.

Popmeii is such a sad and yet beautiful place with all the antic ruins and buried city. The history and/or colors of the place are not very bright. I guess that’s why I like this picture. The sky is bright blue and the photo looks fresh, unlike the rest of dusty Pomepii.

Color Inspiration


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  1. nothingprofound says

    Thanks for the interesting lesson. I like that you prefer the artistic side of photography to the technical. I think art is what, ultimately, transcends technique.

  2. Mira says

    Nothingprofound, although I enjoy the artistic side more, it is important to know the technical one too in order to be able to capture things the way you want. Thanks for stopping by! :)
    A Rose Note, I feel like I should at least know the rules in order to be able to effectively break them. True, I go with what feels and looks the best most of the time too but when I look at my images, I can identify certain composition rules that I've applied unconsciously. Like this one, I wasn't even thinking of the golden triangle rule at the time I took it. :) Have a great day and thanks for stopping by!

  3. Sara says

    Great tutorial, Mira, I'd heard of the Golden Triangle before but never understood what it was, thanks for explaining it. I love attention being drawn to the diagonals across the photo like that and now I understand why.
    Pompeii is such an interesting place to me but it must be so sad. Love the texture in your shot.
    Thanks for visiting me at Chasing Rainbows and your lovely comment.

  4. Heather says

    What a wonderful lesson – thank you for sharing it! I will have to try and apply this to some of my future photographs.

  5. Dorian Susan says

    Very interesting concept. Thank you for sharing. While I've applied the rule of thirds often, sometimes that just doesn't "feel" right. Good to have this in the back pocket to consider too. I love diagonal lines-may be a great way to employ them more often.

  6. kimmyskids says

    I have not heard of this composition good before! Thanks for highlighting it for us! I'm looking forward to exploring it more.

  7. Courtney says

    Golden triangles are definitely a great way to add a little more to your image. I remember working on it in one of my workshops. I would love to visit that place in Italy :O)

  8. says

    Thanks for linking up again this week Myra with such a lovely toned palette. You’ve a lovely contrast there between the blue and the greyish rocks along with the contrast of texture from soft sky compared to rough rock. Great lines too and I use the golden triangle quite a bit when I’m doing architectural shots as they are normally angular to begin with.

  9. says

    Love the image and palette! thanks so much for the info on the golden triangle – I knew what it was but didn’t know how to apply it!