Symmetry in Photography – Daily Thoughts 003
Using symmetry in photography is an easy way to add interest to your images and gain attention from viewers. To keep this post brief, I’m not going to go into the psychology behind symmetry and why we, as humans, are attracted to it. However, it is important to remember that it’s a key element in photography and you should always be on the lookout for it.
There are two common types of symmetry in photography — horizontal symmetry and vertical symmetry. Horizontal symmetry is where the top and bottom portions of an image or object are essentially mirror images of each other. Vertical symmetry occurs when the left and right sides are the same, as if refections of one another.
We see a lot of good examples of horizontal symmetry in landscape photography. Browse any Instagram feed of a landscape photographer, and you’re bound to find an image of a mountain that is reflected onto a body of water to create horizontal symmetry.
Cityscapes are filled with vertical symmetry. Bridges, tunnels, skyscrapers, windows, and doorways provide great opportunities for us to create compositions involving vertical symmetry.
While symmetry on its own may be enough to create a great photo, you shouldn’t always stop there when composing. Adding additional visual elements to the composition will make the image stronger, provided you don’t get carried away.
The easiest way to tell if you have a decent composition is by asking yourself, “Is there enough of a story here?” A dark, symmetrical tunnel covered in graffiti and moody lighting tells a pretty good story, but a symmetrical, well-lit tunnel with clean, white walls doesn’t evoke as many emotions. Combining the symmetry with other elements like subjects, objects, colors, and textures will help you to craft a better story and, in turn, a better image.
Even when you aren’t shooting, it’s great to practice identifying symmetry around you. If you come across a form of symmetry during your daily routine, make a mental note of it. After a few days of doing this, you’ll start to see the world a bit differently and your photographs will show it. You’ll naturally start to use more symmetry in photography without even realizing it. Everything around us is made up of shapes, lines, colors, and tones. The more you get used to visualizing the world in this way, the better you’ll be at nailing compositions.