Photography Composition: Shape

Photography Composition: Shape
Shape in photography is a powerful tool for creating compelling images. By incorporating strong lines, curves, and other shapes into a composition, photographers can add depth and dimension to their photographs. Whether you’re a beginner or a seasoned pro, understanding the fundamentals of shape in photography is essential for creating visually interesting shots.

First, let’s talk about the basic shapes in photography. Most photographers recognize the four basic shapes: circles, triangles, squares, and rectangles. Each of these shapes can be used to create a variety of different effects in your photographs. Circles are often used to create a feeling of harmony and balance, while triangles can add a sense of movement and drama. Squares and rectangles can help to create a sense of structure and order.

In addition to the basic shapes, you should also be aware of the different shapes that can occur naturally in a photograph. These include lines, curves, and even abstract shapes. Lines can be used to direct the viewers’ eyes to the subject, while curves can add a sense of dynamism and flow to an image. Abstract shapes can add a bit of mystery and intrigue to a photograph.

Once you’ve identified the shapes in your photograph, the next step is to figure out how to use them to create a compelling composition. One of the most important elements of successful shape composition is the use of contrast. Contrast, which occurs when two shapes are noticeably different from one another, creates visual interest and helps to draw the viewer’s eye to the subject. You can use contrast to create harmony, tension, and even movement in your images.

The placement of shapes in a photograph can also have a significant impact on the overall composition. Placing shapes near the edges of the frame can help to create a feeling of tension, while placing them more centrally can create a feeling of balance. Additionally, overlapping shapes can create a sense of depth and dimension, while leaving a bit of negative space between them can create a sense of tranquility.

Finally, you should also pay attention to the size of the shapes in your photographs. Large shapes can overpower a photograph, while small shapes can help to draw the viewer’s eye to the subject. You should also consider how the shapes relate to each other in terms of size – for example, if you have a small circle near a large triangle, it can create a feeling of tension and contrast.

By understanding the basics of shape in photography, you can create stunning photographs with a variety of visual effects. By incorporating the four basic shapes, as well as the shapes that occur naturally in a photograph, you can create interesting compositions that draw the viewer’s eye to the subject. Additionally, you can use contrast and size to create tension and balance in your images. With a bit of practice, you can use shape to create powerful and compelling photographs.

More On This Subject

The way subjects connect to each other in a photo forms shapes that draw the eye from subject to subject. If a photograph's composition lacks shape, the photo becomes too busy or awkward to fully appreciate.

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Some shapes are more effective than others in providing an interesting frame for your photo. For instance, squares and circles tend to be too symmetrical and leave too much empty space around the subjects. The shapes that work best for composition are triangles and diamonds.

Triangles can be formed a few different ways:

If your subject is already triangular or diamond-shaped (like a pyramid), the viewer's eye will automatically focus on that shape.

photo by aussiegal

Groups of people can be posed as an irregular triangle. This helps keep people from creating a shapeless blob in a portrait; and an irregular (slanted) triangle makes sure that no two pairs of eyes will lie on the same horizontal plane.

Different landmarks can be one of three points that form the triangle. For instance, a person at the forefront of the photo is the first point, a boat far behind the person forms the second point, and an island on the other side of the frame forms the third point. As long as no other objects enter the frame, the eye can easily follow the photo from the person, to the boat, to the island.

Also, a diagonal line can divide the photo in two, creating two contrasting triangular sides. This stresses the difference between the two sides. For instance, if you allow a fence to bisect your frame on the diagonal, the boundary between the busy highway on one side and the lazy, green pastures on the other is emphasized.

Moving your objects around until your find these pleasing shapes enables you to add dramatic effects to subjects that would otherwise be seen as ordinary.

Take a look at these:

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Other photography articles of interest:
Photography Color Psychology
Photography Color Balance and Highlighting
Photography Composition
Photography Composition: Line
Photography Composition: Shape
High Key Photography

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