Western couple with triangle overlay to show composition Copyright Mark Laurie, InnerSpiritPhoto.com Inner Spirit Photography

Do This To Radically Transform Your Photo’s Power.

If you only inject this technique into your images you will see an astounding jump in the power, impact and response to your images.

You need to incorporate triangles into your image; the more the better.

Triangles naturally guide our eyes to the important points in the image. They can contain the key elements. You will find them utilized in nearly all of the important works of art. You have been seeing it and not even knowing you were reacting to it.

triangle in art

For group portraits it was the first and most repeated rule of designing a group image. The triangle became the pyramid. It gives the subject a solid base; it creates a hierarchy of importance. With larger family groups, if you are clever, you can compose the minor groups into additional pyramids.

This adds them to the whole but reveals their own family group.

It does not need to only be groups, though. You can work with limbs as with an arm holding a head as the subject lies on their side. Placing hands on the waist with elbows turned out creates two triangles, feet slightly wider than shoulder width gives another triangle. No wonder this is called the super hero pose. Dropping down as you shoot upwards adds real drama to the image.


The triangle does not need to be solid lines connecting like with limbs. It can be points of interest; the sun in the sky, it’s reflection in the water with a boat in silhouette on the far side, the cabin lights creating a new point. Place the reflection and the cabin light on the same plane, the lines the sun create your triangle.


Triangles are iconic to us. They come full of meaning that have been strongly developed over the centuries. That is why great artists take advantage of them.


Squatting on their base they suggest the stability of a sumo wrestler. Which is why triangles resonate so much with family portraits. Images not set up this way will suggest instability.

golden triangle

triangle cactus sample

Triangles represent dynamic tension, suggesting action, even aggression. The shape of the triangle conveys this; it does not need for all sides to be equal, it can be stretched. Our eyes can make the stretch. We are always looking for design and balance in chaos; the triangle is the quickest design element we spot.

Balance the sides then it has become a symbol for law, science and the spiritual. You can see the blind woman holding the scales of justice with the all-seeing freemason’s eye on the US dollar bill.

The shape suggests self-discovery with revelation. This attachment comes from the religious and spiritual connotations. Hollywood movies have expanded and built this into our subconscious as a story tool.


The triangle is always viewed as strength; it projects masculinity to the subject. My photography is of women; in subtle and obvious ways I am displaying versions of their strength. As you can imagine, I incorporate it a lot into my imagery.

The Golden Triangle can also be used to replace the rule of thirds in designing the point of impact in your image. Here is how: draw a line from corner to corner. From the other corners draw a line out so that it hits the first line at 90 degrees. You can see the diagram for the sample. Its proportions can also be found in Photoshop’s cropping tool views menu.


Find ways to work triangles and pyramids into your images. You will find your images suddenly start to snap with impact. They will help tell your story and connect in subliminal ways with your viewer.


Posted by: Mark Laurie

World-renown photoartist Mark Laurie of Inner Spirit Photography specializes in Female Portraiture: nudes, boudoir, prenatal & fine art. His empowering images of women reveal their heart & soul.