By Levi Shand
What do you mean, “triangles”?
This challenge is all about triangles, and my question to you is: Can you incorporate them into your composition? If you’re not sure, let’s start with what can constitute the points and “arms” of a triangle in our street photographs. It’s easiest for the viewer to distinguish triangles in a composition when the three points coincide with dominant elements in an image. How do elements become dominant? Ideally, they’d feature greater contrast than other elements in the image, or read easily against their backgrounds, or in many cases in street photography, they’d be human and/or larger than other elements.
The arms of a compositional triangle may be explicit or implied. The eye may be drawn from one point to the next along an existing visual element (a cord, an arm, a bar, etc.) or along a sight-line vector (via a subject’s looking direction). It’s also fair to isolate three strong visual elements against a neutral field, and leave the viewer no choice but to identify a triangle.
How can triangles function in a composition?
Photographers can use triangles in many ways. One common use is to unite planes in an image. Imagine each point of a triangle lying on a distinct plane, the shape pulling and holding all three together. Another use is to reinforce the Gestalt Law of Similarity. Imagine a group of elements, confined to a triangle shape, and further off another group huddled into that or another shape. If enough triangles populate an image, and feature parallel arms, an unintended but lovely side-effect can be achieved: visual rhythm and movement.
For the purposes of this challenge, let’s just try to include a triangle in a frame. Yes, there are philosophies, rules and opinions about how they ought to be oriented to achieve certain effects, but as we begin let’s concern ourselves with the first steps. Here are some guidelines and tips toward making a compliant image:
- Seek the shape on its own, as composed by a single feature: in an architectural detail, on an empty street…point being to grow accustomed to seeing triangles without straining.
- Seek triangles on a single plane. Imagine two human figures, one seated on the seat of a park bench and another directly behind them, leaning against the bench-back, for example, as seen from the side. Imagine a mother pushing a pram or stroller, or a person in profile walking a dog. Imagine a shop employee leaning down to stock or straighten a shelf.
- Scale some height, and look down on a scene.
Good luck! Go with some examples from my photo library: