- Simple Photography Composition Tips That Will Improve Your Photos
- 10 Rules to Follow When Composing a Photo
- Easy Landscape Photography Composition Tips With Tons of Impact
- Composition Mistakes Every Photographer Should Avoid
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Composition is one of the more important of the various tools and techniques we use to create good photographic art. For many photographers, composition is right up there with exposure on how to make a great image.
Photography composition techniques include the tried and true Rule of Thirds, Golden Spiral, Leading Lines, S Curves, and one we will be covering today, Symmetry. Learning how to use symmetry and other photography composition techniques can be a lot of fun as well as a way to improve your photographs.
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First off, let’s see why photography composition matters in the first place. What is it that makes a difference between good photography composition and bad photography composition?
Good Photography Composition
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Photographically speaking, composition describes where objects are in a scene and how they relate to each other. If the photograph feels natural, balanced, comfortable, it’s good photography composition.
Another style of photography composition also delivers good images. A composition that feels exciting, creates impact, and holds interest is also good photography composition. Most of the ways to use symmetry will employ this second method, though symmetry can be used both ways.
Bad Photography Composition
If viewing the image causes visual stress without creating some sort of impact, then that is an example of bad photography composition. When looking at examples of photography composition, a scene that feels too busy is also usually undesirable.
It can be difficult to decide sometimes, but if a composition makes you wonder what the point of the photograph is, then it isn’t the best composition for that scene.
How to Use Symmetry - Overview
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When considering photography composition tips and techniques, symmetry is sometimes left off the lists or put down the list from the big three of golden spiral, leading lines, and rule of thirds. Part of the reason is because of how symmetry is more often used in comparison to the other photography composition techniques.
While the goal for many rules of composition involve achieving balance or a comfortable view of the scene, symmetry is more likely to be used for creating tension or drawing attention to something.
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Not that symmetry isn’t balanced, because it is, but rather that the intent for how to use symmetry will often be for a different feel or point of view. In fact, a formal definition of symmetry will include the words balance and balanced, but in actual use, the type of balance is different from other rules of composition.
In practice, symmetry can be very similar to using patterns in photography composition. Actually, patterns and symmetry are easy to blend together as composition tools. Symmetry can be blended well with other techniques such as leading lines, as well.
How to Use Symmetry - Cityscapes
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As an exercise in how to use symmetry as a photography composition technique, let’s venture out and take some pictures, starting in or near our own neighborhood.
An excellent use of symmetry as a photography composition technique can be done with bridges, roads, and buildings. Even some houses and vehicles. Man made objects tend to abound in symmetry.
We can easily add in leading lines and patterns in cityscape symmetry by looking straight down the center of a road, avenue, or bridge. Centering a subject is a perfectly valid choice when using symmetry. Try this out at an amusement park, too.
Patterns in a cityscape can be seen in the windows of a skyscraper, the columns in a classic building, stairways, even city buses. If you are shooting aerial views with a drone, the patterns of the streets themselves or multiple buildings can fit our goal of how to use symmetry.
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By the way, you don’t always need to get perfect symmetry to make use of this photography composition technique. You’re an artist, using a tool, if moving the symmetry a little bit off to the side or up ro down works better for what you see in the scene, go for it.
How to Use Symmetry - Nature
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Natural objects and scenes tend to be somewhat asymmetrical, which is why rules like thirds work so well, but even asymmetry can be a part of our use of symmetry in photographing nature. As an example, while a sunflower in bloom exemplifies the golden spiral, a whole field of sunflowers can satisfy finding patterns or symmetry in the scene.
A curved river or stream can be used for symmetry even though it follows the photography composition technique of S curves, just look for similar things on both sides of the river. One tree may differ from another in a large way but an entire forest of trees will likely show some symmetry and patterns that repeat.
How to Use Symmetry - People
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Individual portraits or group photos can fall into the category of symmetry as a photographic technique. We tend to favor asymmetry in portraits, just look at our fascination with Rembrandt lighting. Symmetry can be achieved in our portrait session by having the subject directly face the camera and centering them in the frame.
Groups of people can fit symmetry also, especially if they are in uniform. Factory workers, business executives, marching bands, fire fighters, and other groups are often dressed similarly. Make use of that when looking for symmetry or a pattern.
Other Ways to Use Symmetry
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When searching for opportunities or ideas for how to use symmetry in photography, sometimes we could simply make our own symmetrical grouping of objects. When playing around with creating a still life, try also arranging them in a symmetrical pattern. For instance, that bowl of fruit or vase of flowers might appear symmetrical when shot from directly above.
Product photography, small objects or large, or real estate photography are other opportunities to try out symmetry. Kitchen gadgets, hair care products, the grill of a new automobile, a front door, or a factory floor lend themselves to being photographed using symmetry.
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Mirroring objects or people is a fantastic way to create symmetry. The subject isn’t required to be dead center for each image, either. As with the other photography composition techniques, move around to get the best framing for that particular subject or scene.
Remember To Break the Rules
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As with all of our “rules” of photography, many of them serve us best as a guideline or a starting point. We may vary our exposure a little bit or radically to achieve a desired effect in the final image, the same thought works for our rules of photography composition.
You might give yourself some exercises or projects to do. Make learning how to use symmetry one of these projects. Try it out using the strict definition and then change it up, see how each change affects your picture. Add in some other photographic techniques as a blend, perhaps adjusting exposure, contrast, or depth of focus to accentuate or minimize symmetry.
Once you learn the various rules, you can adjust them, tweak them, or outright break to accomplish your goal for an image. Any way you look at it, symmetry is a great tool to learn and use for your art of photography.