The Power of Three

I was teaching at a workshop in The Dominican Republic almost two years ago when I first used the triangle as a way to explain to workshop attendees how to get more depth in their photographs. It wasn’t the first time I’d used the triangle explanation but there was more power to presenting in this group setting.

The dynamics of the workshop were amazing. It’s called Somosfoto and was the second such workshop created for the Spanish-speaking part of the world. They’re organized by Lelen Robert and Loup Langton out of the University of Miami. The first was in Quito, Ecuador. A third is upcoming in another country south of here – though Lelen has retired so Loup may be on his own in creating these magical settings.

The faculty for the workshops is astounding. In the Dominican: Maggie Steber, Randy Olson, Melissa Farlow, Todd Heisler, Brenda Ann Kennealy, Kathleen Hennesey, Justin Sullivan, Pablo Corral Vega, Janet Reeves, Mark Edelson and me.

But I digress. The point is to talk about the power of three. Triangles represent one aspect of how to integrate this power into your photography. 

If you’ve taken a painting class, you know that triangles are the foundation of spatial creation. The goal is to create a space where people travel into and around the elements of a photograph; the more geometrically dynamic the frame is, the more engaging the experience will be.

Integrate triangles into your pictures as you’re making them by connecting three elements together. Do so on multiple planes of activity within the frame and you’ll increase the depth in your pictures.

The three connected things can be shapes, colors, actions, coming together of elements, repetitions of qualities, any number of things. The more the connected elements push to the edges of the frames and the further back in the distance they go, the more dynamic the image will be.

I’m not saying that for an image to be complex, every part of the frame has to have something happening. To the contrary. Negative spaces create triangles as much as positive ones.

There is more, of course. This is just the beginning of a longer discussion I have with photographers about their work.

Congratulations to Karla