Elements of Composition Pt III – Symmetry

symmetry (noun)
⁃ the quality of having parts that make each other, especially in a way that is attractive, or similarity of shape or contacts

A symmetrical photo is achievable when one half of the image is identical to the other half. This can be from either the top / bottom part, left / right section or a diagonal split. Photo by Dmitri Yakovlev 

Symmetry is all around us, both in man-made structures and nature. Granted that nature has the best form of symmetry to exist, it can be quite hard to get it to stay long enough for you to click the shutter.

With structures, it can be the best subject for you to shoot. Their sleek, simple or intricate lines that are uncluttered makes it the best canvas there is. A shot of these structures can really show the dynamics of the creation.

Bear in mind that to capture symmetry, you will need a strong point of interest to really produce a stunning photo.

The point of interest is more often than not placed in the middle of the frame. You can also take the photo from a different angle to give an unexpected feel to the image.

You can also break your image into halves by introducing a line to ‘cut’ your photo. This allows you to have a more controlled feel to what would be a predictable image.

Don’t be afraid to combine other elements of composition in a single photo.

Leading lines often appear in symmetry, and it helps if you’re familiar with it as well as the rule of thirds. Placing your subject in the middle of the frame whilst the symmetrical values appear on both sides of the frame allows a 3D-effect or a ‘more-to-life’ look to it.

Slight misalignment can distract an image. Stand or place your camera in the centre of the subject, keeping the camera horizontal and perpendicular to the centre eye-level of your viewer. Photo by Mitch Lensink

A cool trick you can incorporate with this, (which isn’t an element of composition but really cool nonetheless), is reflections of your subject. Puddles, seas, lakes, or mirrors can create a stunning image in their reflection, giving off a feel of surreality to your image.

If your image is not balanced at your first shot, fret not! You can always alter it in post-production.

Our favourite phone app to edit our photos’ symmetry is PS Express, Lightroom CC, and VSCO. If you’re using an iPhone, you can edit your photos right in your photos app. Also, PS Express is totally Android friendly!

However, even with the availability of these quick-editing apps that can be downloaded and stored on our phone to fix our little photo emergencies, that doesn’t mean you should stop practising!

Always remember to perfect your art when you’re shooting and everywhere you go. For more inspiration on the symmetry of photography, check out Symmetrical Monsters on Instagram.

Good luck.

Header photo by Rucksack Magazine

Read our Elements of Composition Part II – Leading Lines.

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