In photography, there are lots of crazy semantics to understand! Everything from ISO’s and apertures, to shutters, diopters and f-stops, ASA’s and guide numbers are all part of the craft. Heck, there’s even one called the “circle of confusion” – and you can quickly get lost in the sea of words and acronyms in photography. One that I can’t believe I’ve not talked about here before is a triptych! It’s pretty simple actually when you break it down really though, so fear not. Here’s your beginner’s guide to triptych photography!
In a triptych, all you are doing is taking three photographs and putting them together in sequence. The sequence can be three photographs all composited into one montage (say in Photoshop), they can be individual prints that are assembled in a wide frame, or even three framed photos that are hung horizontally or in close proximity to each other on a wall. Traditionally, triptychs follow a theme, whether it be a series of photos over time (a house in the Spring, Summer, Fall and Winter), a person with different poses, or a landscape cut up into a left, center and right framed photograph.
Triptychs can be a lot of fun, especially if you have the digital capacity to preview how things might look in sequence like this. Here’s a few examples I’ve done digitally to give you an idea. First, a posed series:
See how a landscape can have various elements in each, to visually tie things together? This is similar to, but quite different from the effect of a series of portraits. I’ve seen some wonderful triptychs where people have assembled longitudinal poses (say a dog as a puppy, at 4 years and in their senior years), triptychs of seasonal changes in a landscape, and even triptychs that juxtapose color, black and white, and sepia filters on photos.
Add to it the ability to angle photographs from the top left to the bottom right, or from the bottom left to top right, and even up and down to create an entirely different effect. Matting and framing choices also factor into how successful a triptych display would be. You literally are bound by nothing more than your imagination. As the folks at Canon are keen for saying then, where does your imagination want to take you today? Follow that path unique to you! To that end, I’d like to hear from the reading audience, here’s my questions back to you:
1. Do you find triptych styles of presentation appealing?
2. Have you done any triptych work in the past that you’ve posted either online or in your own house or gallery?
Finally, inevitably, someone will almost always ask me if I would mind sharing with them my template that I’ve used to assemble my own work in PSD format. The answer, almost always, is yes! To that end, here is a free download of the template I used to create the above triptychs. Feel free to edit this to your own ends as desired!