Proportion in Photography: A Comprehensive Guideline (+ Examples)

Symmetry on Photography: A Comprehensive Guide (+ Examples)

how to use symmetry for striking compositions

Symmetry is a powerful compositional device , although how does it work? When exactly should you use it? And, most importantly, how can you use symmetry in images for amazing results?

In this article, I share everything you need to know to get started together with symmetrical photography. I also present some practical tips – so you can start taking your compositions to the next level, fast.

Ready to become a symmetry leading? Then let’s jump right in, starting with the basics:

What is symmetry in digital photography training?

Symmetry is known as a compositional device that features a subject matter reflected across an fictional axis. In general, the main subject sits smack-dab in the center of the particular frame, like this:

Portrait of man sitting at a bench, photographed with center composition and off-camera flash

However , as I focus on later on in this article, a concentrated subject isn’t always crucial (and you can use off-center shaped subjects for compelling results).

Note that wedding photographers, especially photographers engaging utilizing composition for the first time, tend to steer clear of symmetrical compositions. The ever-popular rule regarding thirds emphasizes the value of asymmetry, so serious beginners try to work with your rule of thirds gridlines in the hopes of creating dynamic, well-balanced photos.

But here’s the thing:

While poorly used balance can result in boring, static compositions, symmetry – when thoroughly applied – creates well balanced, intense, even in-your-face graphics.

Symmetry vs the rule of thirds

As I described in the previous section, beginner wedding photographers tend to rely heavily within the rule of thirds, a powerful oft-repeated compositional technique that uses a handy grid overlay:

A shot showing the rule of thirds - How to Break the Rules with a central composition

The thought is that you position key elements a 3rd of the way into the style, which gives the overall composition a feeling of balance, while also avoiding the shot from staying too static.

But while the tip of thirds is great, and it’s often highly effective, it may possibly get a bit repetitive. In the end, using the equivalent compositional framework over and over again will create similar photos. Plus, the rule regarding thirds rarely makes for intense images; by positioning this issue off-center, you often remove from any in-your-face effects.

Enter symmetry, which is a solid alternative to the particular rule of thirds. (Despite its name, the rule for thirds isn’t actually a rule, just a guideline! ) Of course , you shouldn’t make use of symmetrical composition tactics on a daily basis – as with the rule of thirds, you’ll in due course start producing repetitive pictures – but by using symmetry now and again, you can inject a lot of shock and awe inside your portfolio.

How to Break the Rules with a central composition

How to use symmetry in your images

When you are starting out with symmetrical images, I encourage you to try to find two things:

  1. Symmetrical subjects. I mean subject matter that reflect across any axis, such as people, woods, and buildings.
  2. Reflective objects. I’m preaching about water, metal, glass, not to mention anything else you can find that bends away the scene.

These two elements – symmetrical subjects and reflecting objects – are your symmetry bread and butter. As long as you have one or the alternative, you can pull off a symmetrical composition.

And once you’re out with your high-end camera and you’re aiming to grab a powerful photo, stop, calm down, and look around.

If you can find a shaped subject, such as an interesting setting up, do what you can to position it in the dead heart of the frame. For the best effects, line up your shot so your sensor is parallel with your front of the subject, not to mention (generally) aim to fill an enormous chunk of the frame using subject’s mass.

Humans are symmetrical, so when I’m after a strong result, I’ll ask my subject to face directly toward or away from the camera, like this:

A man walked on a trail in the forest in a center composed image - How to Break the Rules with a central composition

Notice the fact that subject’s back is entirely aligned with my photographic camera sensor, and how even the betting lines of his shirt increase the symmetry. (No, his mind isn’t angled for accurate symmetry, but that was deliberate; by slightly subverting typically the symmetrical effect, I avoided the composition from getting overly static. )

Even if you don’t have (or can’t find) a symmetrical subject, you still have a second method:

Yow will discover a nice reflective object, well then position your camera as a result half of the scene is huge while the other half is mirrored. It often pays to put the cloths line of reflection in the center of often the shot, though you can generally position it along a fabulous rule of thirds gridline for a slightly more unconventional result.

These days, refractive symmetry is very popular among severe photographers, who rely on numerous reflective objects for stunning effects, such as:

  • Car windows
  • Car hoods
  • Metal buildings
  • Quiet lakes
  • City puddles
  • Car mirrors
  • Smartphone screens

Really, concerning reflection photography, the only reduce is your imagination and ingenuity. (In fact, some photography addicts even carry bottles involving water to create puddles when needed! )

five tips for stunning symmetrical pics

Now that you’re familiar with the symmetry concepts, I’ll share my favorite techniques for improving your symmetrical compositions:

1 . Don’t be concerned to get close

When you’re creating shaped compositions, the closer you can your symmetrical subject or perhaps reflective object, the more distinct the symmetry becomes…

…and more transparent symmetry makes for an become more intense effect.

You see, if you use a wide-angle lens or shoot from a distance, it’s easy to lose instances of symmetry in the overall makeup. Plus, the more you use in the frame, the more likely it really is that the symmetry will be scratched by a couple of element, which will weaken the effect.

So if your goal is usually to capture an in-your-face fired, get close – both by walking nearer with your subject or by using a telephoto lens. In fact , if you can, make an effort to fill the particular frame using obvious symmetry.

Take a look at this impression, which features a symmetrical idea (doing a relatively symmetrical pose) as well as a semi-symmetrical background:

A portrait of a man in the woods - How to Break the Rules with a central composition

But while your symmetry is nice, typically the wider perspective takes away through the effect; the result is much upgraded with a telephoto focal mileage:

A portrait of a man walking through the woods - How to Break the Rules with a central composition

2 . Minimalism is your friend

Minimalism is a photographic design that features clean – quite possibly empty – backgrounds, hassle-free subjects, and decluttered natural environment.

Just in case doing symmetrical photography, better you can simplify your hit (that is, the more you possibly can go smart ), the better it is going to turn out.

All things considered, a simplified composition will likely make your subject the center of focus, which is pretty much always the best thing.

But make a plan create minimalistic shots?

Start by looking around the scene and performing what you can to cut out distractions, either by psychologically removing them from the composition or by adjusting your personal camera viewpoint . (For instance, test moving your camera a bit left, right, up, and down; you’d be amazed by how helpful these kinds of tiny movements can be! )

You might also seek out large swathes of negative space and see how you can merge them into the scene. For instance, by getting down reduced, you can often bring an empty white or blue heavens into the frame.

Personally, I like to widen my personal aperture to f/4, f/2. 8, or wider; because of this, I can create a soft-focus influence that turns the background straight into soft and creamy bokeh .

When taking pictures this lantern, the background threatened to weaken the balance effect:

busy background - How to Break the Rules with a central composition

So I used a wide aperture to blur it in to oblivion. The final result is much more pleasing, and the symmetry within the lantern is far more obvious:

A lantern on a forest path How to Break the Rules with a central composition

3. Try out off-center compositions

Throughout this article, I emphasized the value of centralized symmetrical combinaison.

Plus it’s true:

If you put symmetrical clients smack-dab in the middle of your photographs, then you’ll get spectacular, interesting results.

But sometimes it’s far better to take your symmetrical compositions in the different direction, especially if you prefer the power of symmetry while also gaining the dynamism of the off-center structure.

If you accomplish go for decentered symmetry, I’d recommend an individual avoid working with symmetrical subjects and instead compose with shaped scenes (e. g., a good tree reflected in the waters or a street reflected at a building facade).

(In my experience, in the event you decenter symmetrical subjects, the symmetry tends to fade to the background and you lose most ~ or all – of its power. )

So simply find a resembled scene, then instead of placement the line of symmetry in the heart of the shot, position the idea slightly higher, lower, ideal, or left. Here, the rule of thirds can be a big help – in fact , you need to use an off-centered composition in order to meet both the rule about thirds and the symmetrical method. Make sense?

5. Crop for perfect success

My remaining suggestion is a quick a, but it’s extremely essential if you want to create polished, professional balance pictures:

Constantly, always, without exception import your own photos into a program such as Lightroom. Then do a finished symmetry check – and when the symmetry isn’t appropriate, apply a bit of quick popping.

(Is suitable symmetry always essential? Possibly not if you’re after a more non-traditional effect, as I described in the earlier section. However , if your goal is for capturing a stunningly symmetrical picture, then a slightly asymmetrical susceptible will significantly dampen the effects. )

I use Lightroom for this, which offers an important handy rule of thirds grid; as you can see in the case study below, I try to distinct elements of my subject using the rule of thirds gridlines:

LR showing how to crop an image - How to Break the Rules with a central composition

Accordingly, you don’t need to do this final crop in Lightroom. Programs such as Capture A person, Luminar Neo, and Photoshop are all perfectly acceptable. You may even do this step in a free cell phone app; the point is to spend period scrutinizing the image for wonderful symmetry, then do what we can to fix any goof ups!

Symmetry during photography: final words

Now that you’ve finished this article, you should know what symmetry is all about – and how you could incorporate symmetry into your personalized photos for stunning benefits.

So exercise locating symmetrical objects and also scenes. Practice working with varied compositions. And above all, enjoy yourself !!

Now onto you:

What type of symmetrical photography do you plan to do? Do you have any suggestions of your own? Share your thoughts within the comments below!

A nighttime portrait of a man on a dock, photographed with central composition

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Frank Myrland

Frank Myrland

is an avid photographer by Toronto, Canada. Many years throughout the he picked up a cameras on a whim, and he is been hooked ever since. For an active and independent pupil, Frank likes to continuously take a look at ways to make his photos worth a second look. Now you can see more of his work by simply visiting his or her website , or by connecting with him on Instagram and Facebook.

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