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Golden SpiralA less well known compositional guide is the Golden Spiral. The idea is that some element or elements of the composition or subject should lead the eye in a broadly spiralling path to the centre of interest of the image. Straight lines are used in many compositions to lead the eye into an image, and the principle is basically the same with the spiral. The image on the left should help to clarify the idea.

The floral image used to illustrate this idea here was selected because the "spiral line" is not too obvious - this is often the case in the real world. It would have been all too easy to select a view looking down a spiral staircase. Don't interpret the idea of the spiral too literally. It is better to regard the golden spiral principle as a broad guide and not worry too much about whether a spiral line fits perfectly.

Photographic composition cannot be mastered by applying "rules". All the well known principles of composition are merely guides that help to train the mind of a photographer to recognize pictures that "work" or "do not work". An experienced photographer may not even be able to put into words why his or her eye is satisfied that a particular composition is good. The eye and brain just recognize it as such. However, when sitting down to examine successful pictures, it is often the case that compositions conform to one or more of the compositional "rules" - but sometimes they do not!


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