Product Images, Half 9: Superior Composition

I discussed two rules of composition in my previous post that could make your product photography more engaging. I’ll expand on that topic in this article.

This is the ninth installment in my series to help ecommerce retailers create better product images. “Part 1” dealt with the importance of backdrops. “Part 2” explains tripods. “Part 3” examined artificial lighting. “Part 4” dealt with angles and angles and “Part 5” dealt with the selection of a camera. “Part 6” evaluates lenses and their importance. “Part 7” focused on enlargement and close-ups, and “Part 8” introduced the basics of composition.

In this episode, I’ll discuss three advanced composition strategies: Golden Ratio, Golden Triangle, and Dynamic Diagonals.

Golden cut

The golden ratio, also known as the Fibonacci spiral, is a rule of composition based on the principles of the 13th century Italian mathematician Leonardo of Pisa (later known as Fibonacci). Fibonacci’s famous sequence is that each number is the sum of the previous two – 1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, etc. Applying this sequence to photography and design creates aesthetically pleasing layouts.

Applying the golden ratio to photography creates aesthetically pleasing layouts. This example shows the progression of squares and arcs within the squares, simulating how people look at the images. Source: PhotographyHero.com.

Imagine a series of adjacent squares in your camera frame. The length of the first and second square is the same. The length of the third square is the sum of the first two. Placing an arc within each square connecting opposite corners provides a natural way for the human eye to see an object. The arc spacing of each square would be 1.618 times the length of the square. This is the so-called golden ratio: 1.618. It is a natural path that draws our attention around the photo and ultimately to the focal point of the image.

The composition of this picture follows the golden ratio, with the surfboard at the end of the spiral. Source: Fotowoosh.com.

The composition of this picture follows the golden ratio, with the surfboard at the end of the spiral. Source: Fotowoosh.com.

When applying the golden ratio to product photography, place your item at the end of the spiral (like the surfboard above). Then place all the support elements in the large arch that spirals out of focus. Any supporting elements outside the arch would distract the viewer’s attention and lead to an unsatisfactory image.

golden triangle

The golden triangle is another advanced composition rule that divides the picture frame into triangular sections, with the center of gravity being the intersection of lines. It’s similar to the rule of thirds in my previous article.

Diagram of the composition rule of the Golden Triangle from CraftProfessional.com

The golden triangle rule divides the frame of the photo into triangular sections, with the focal point being the intersection of the lines. Source: CraftProfessional.com

Placing your product along these axes will improve the focus of the image and make it more engaging. However, contrary to the rule of thirds, the golden triangle focuses on adding a strong diagonal element with guiding lines that direct the human eye to the focal point of the image.

The golden triangle is more demanding than the rule of thirds. But check out product ads. The golden triangle is likely to be used a lot.

To experiment, divide your frame diagonally into two sections along an imaginary line connecting opposite corners. Then draw two diagonal lines from the unused corners to intersect with the starting line at a 90-degree angle. Place your product where the lines cross and keep the supporting elements of the photo in the same triangle. It’s a simple and effective way to create an engaging product image.

Photo by creativelysquared of food on a table applies the golden triange rule

The golden triangle adds a diagonal element with lines that draw the human eye to the focal point. Source: CreativelySquared.com.

Dynamic diagonals

Dynamic diagonal construction is relatively simple. You are probably doing it subconsciously. The rule is to place the essential elements of a photo along diagonal lines. The lines of a product photo are the best way to get a viewer to focus on the item. Supporting elements within the photo should lead to the product, the focus.

Following this rule is easy. Take a look at your frame, place your product, and build your load-bearing elements around your product along diagonal lines. See the example below. The plants and rocks lead our gaze to the product (face powder).

Photo sample from ExpertPhotography.com with a focus on face powder with supporting plants and stones.

The dynamic diagonal composition places the essential elements of a photo along diagonal lines. In this example, the plants and stones direct our gaze to the product (face powder). Source: ExpertPhotography.com.

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