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3 Advantages of Using the TRIPTYCH Technique in Photography

Updated: Sep 27, 2023

Marlay house reflection

The dictionary definition of the term TRIPTYCH is:

a set of three associated artistic, literary or musical works intended to be appreciated together.

A triptych typically refers to a work of art that is divided into three sections or presented in three parts, usually presented in vertical form.

Alternatively, there can be a middle panel which is larger than and flanked by two smaller works.

However, the term is also used more generally to describe anything with three parts which are connected to form a single unit.

It is this latter definition that is often used in photography. It refers to three photographs which can be displayed as a unit due to their connection with each other.

Connections can be based on a range of criteria such as:

similar colour

taken in the same general area

three different views of the same subject

similar style, e.g. all abstract

Triptychs can be used in any genre of photography and can be adapted to suit all weather conditions.

Here are 3 advantages of using the triptych technique in photography. You will probably think of many more.

#1. This technique offers you increased opportunities for creative photography

You are not using the same techniques for each image and that encourages you to think more creatively. Knowing that you will take three connected images means you will not be limited by one shooting style. You might have a wide-angle shot, a close-up shot and a mid-range type shot to illustrate your chosen theme.

One example might be in a coastal area where you capture a wide-angle shot of a building or distant ship, a mid-range shot of sea and rocks and a close-up of a piece of seaweed on the sand.

The more you look for creative opportunities to use the triptych technique, the more inspiration you will find.

These three images were all taken in the same area but show very different aspects of the area within a small radius.

#2. This technique encourages use of photographic skills

Instead of capturing just one image at a location you will be looking for three images that have a connection. This will encourage observation, careful planning to get a good composition, use of different techniques and camera settings, and careful consideration of the type of images you want to capture.

You may want to tell a story with your image set; you may want to create a set with a similar colour theme; you may want to create a set of images using different depths of field. Whatever your ideas, you will be utilising many of your existing photography skills, while learning or improving many more.

The three images above were taken in the same area and show different aspects of the same subject so technically they form a triptych. However, for a triptych to be successful to me it has to meet another criterion - would I like it displayed on my wall? In this case the answer is no as there is too much included in the images and I prefer simplicity.

However, the possibilities for experiment are endless when practising this technique.

#3. This technique encourages us to print some images

Most of us will agree that images look better in print than on digital media, yet most of us don't print our images very often. The triptych technique is based on displaying three images as a unit and this may encourage us to consider printing our triptych sets, possibly changing our display regularly.

The three images below, taken at the same location, are on display in my home in large format. I have several variations of the scene and I regularly change the display.

Triptych images are generally displayed in vertical format so it is worth remembering this while out shooting.

I also believe that if our eventual outcome is to print and frame out triptych set of images we will pay more attention while capturing our photographs to ensure that we end up with images that we are proud to display in our home.

Each set of three images will look much better when printed and displayed as a unit of three than they do on digital media.

I hope I have convinced you of the advantages of trying the triptych technique in your photography.

If you haven't already tried this technique, you might like to give it a go.

Happy shooting.


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