Learning how to use the Golden Spiral & Golden Triangle Compositions 

What are the Golden Spiral & Golden Triangle in Photography?

The golden spiral also referred to as the Fibonacci spiral, golden ratio, golden mean and phi grid is a compositional tool used to create better, more compelling compositions in your images. This spiral is taken from nature and can be seen everywhere from DNA to broccoli to sunflowers.

Also another composition tool the golden triangle is formed by making one diagonal from corner to corner and creating triangles by adding two more diagonals from the other corners to the main diagonal line.

How to use the Golden Spiral

When composing your image, place the main subject of your image in the center of the smallest part of the spiral. After that try to place all of your supporting elements around the rest of the spiral. By doing this your viewer will be led directly to your main subject and follow the other elements around the image, leading them throughout the image.

In this example, I’ve placed the model in the middle of the smallest section of the spiral. Combined with leading lines and her brightness the view is drawn directly to her, my main subject.

Capture the Story & Soul of Your Subject


How to Use the Golden Triangle

You can use the golden triangle in two ways:

  1. You can place your subject directly along the diagonals, this will give your subject direction and help your viewer land directly where you want them to.
  2. You can fill the triangle with your subject and use the shape of your subject to create the triangles which lead your viewer to the main area of the image you are highlighting and creates symmetry and balance.

For this surfer, I’ve not only used complementary colours to create my subject to pop but I’ve also placed him along the diagonals of the golden triangle. Using these triangles and angles create a more balanced and pleasing composition.

Tips to make using these composition tools easier


  1. Check to see if your camera has composition options on its display (if you use mobile phones there is an app that will do this)
  2. Use the composition overlays in Lightroom and Photoshop to help you learn these tools
  3. Go through old images, open them up in Lightroom and turn on the overlay (CMD+O/CTRL+O switches the overlay), see where your images fall on the golden spiral or the golden triangle.

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Please leave me a comment below – I’d love to know what you think. Brent

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