In food photography, and photography in general, a good fundamental tip on composition is to create or find triangles in your images. Triangles keep the viewer’s eyes on the photo, since when you follow a triangle with your eyes you are basically circling around the image, looking at all the elements. In this image the basil leaves are the boldest color, so your eyes probably were drawn to that part of the image first. If you followed your eyes to the other leaves then you were fooled into looking at the entire photo. ;)

Your triangles don’t have to all be the same colors or shapes – they could be as simple as three different elements in an image that your eyes will be easily drawn to. If you are photographing people then the direction of a person’s eyes are going to draw the viewer’s eyes in the same direction, and you could use that element in your “triangle”.

In food photography you will also find that adding this technique to your styling is very pleasing to the eye. I always add the “final touches” to the dish while it’s sitting on its mark, since I have a better view of the image through the viewfinder and can create or find the best placement for things like garnishes and silverware from that perspective.

In food photography, and photography in general, a good fundamental tip on composition is to create or find triangles in your images. Triangles keep the viewer’s eyes on the photo, since when you follow a triangle with your eyes you are basically circling around the image, looking at all the elements. In this image the basil leaves are the boldest color, so your eyes probably were drawn to that part of the image first. If you followed your eyes to the other leaves then you were fooled into looking at the entire photo. ;)

Your triangles don’t have to all be the same colors or shapes – they could be as simple as three different elements in an image that your eyes will be easily drawn to. If you are photographing people then the direction of a person’s eyes are going to draw the viewer’s eyes in the same direction, and you could use that element in your “triangle”.

In food photography you will also find that adding this technique to your styling is very pleasing to the eye. I always add the “final touches” to the dish while it’s sitting on its mark, since I have a better view of the image through the viewfinder and can create or find the best placement for things like garnishes and silverware from that perspective.

Nicole S. Young is a photographer, published author, and educator specializing in Lightroom, Photoshop, and photography. She is best known for her books on food photography but is widely versed in various photographic genres, including landscape, nature, stock, travel, and lifestyle.

11 Comments

  1. Toni Johnson January 28, 2010 at 9:38 am - Reply

    Very interesting… I’ve heard of composition explained in the rule of thirds, but never in this way. Good to know, thanks!

  2. Nathan Ciurzynski January 28, 2010 at 11:12 am - Reply

    Hi Nicole,

    Love this image! Would you mind sharing the lighting setup that you used here?

    -Nathan

  3. Samantha Decker January 28, 2010 at 1:12 pm - Reply

    Cool concept, I’ve never heard of this before! The only problem is now I’m craving pesto pasta!

  4. Nicole January 28, 2010 at 3:02 pm - Reply

    Nathan – the setup is the exact same as the one in this post (http://nicolesy.com/2010/01/25/using-a-reflector/), just reversed (window on left, reflector on right).

  5. tia January 28, 2010 at 9:32 pm - Reply

    i like that thx!

  6. Memoria January 28, 2010 at 10:24 pm - Reply

    Great tip and trick!! I’ll keep this in mind for my next photos.

  7. Zahra January 30, 2010 at 11:02 am - Reply

    oooh! I have never heard of this technique! I should definitely give it a shot :)

  8. ButterYum February 5, 2010 at 6:56 pm - Reply

    Ahhhh!!!!! Like the work triangle in your kitchen!

    :)
    ButterYum

  9. singapore food photography July 2, 2010 at 12:29 am - Reply

    interesting tip!

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