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Elements of Design and Rebel Photographers

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Exploring the elements of design:  lines, symmetry and pattern

To me, photography is an art of observation.  It’s about finding something interesting in an ordinary place…it has little to do with the things you see and everything to do with the way you see them.  Elliot Erwitt

I believe Elliot is onto something.  The way we see things distinguishes rebel photographers from the rest of the herd.  And the most direct route to seeing things differently is by looking for ways to incorporate elements of design.

Elements of design are all around us, both in nature and man made.  They are: line, shape, form, texture, pattern and colour.  These elements can be symmetrical or asymmetrical.

Lines are almost everywhere. Diagonal lines are more dynamic

Lines are almost everywhere. Diagonal lines are more dynamic

 

Lines are a favourite design element of mine, because they are everywhere and in ample variety: straight, curvy, diagonal, vertical and horizontal.  Symmetrical lines usually have a harmonious and balanced quality, with the image divided into two sides or halves that are the same or very close in size, shape, and position.

Lines that can divide the image to two or more parts.

Lines that can divide the image to two or more parts.

Lines that can divide the image to two or more parts.

Lines that can divide the image to two or more parts.

Images with asymmetrical lines are typically off-centre or created with an odd or mismatched number of elements.  

curved lines to divide the image

curved lines to divide the image

Guide lines and divided lines

Guide lines and divided lines

Patterns, like lines, are found everywhere; they are so much a part of our lives that we often overlook them.  As a design element they are fun to photograph and are often found in abstract images, but can be any composition which features a repetition of shapes.

a man made pattern

a man made pattern

 

>> Abstract pic and description:  On a late summer evening the reflection of a pink sunset and patterns made by leaves and lilies is reminiscent of simplicity so common in Japanese art. 

>> Abstract pic and description:  On a late summer evening the reflection of a pink sunset and patterns made by leaves and lilies is reminiscent of simplicity so common in Japanese art.

 

It’s also interesting to break patterns in a composition.  In this image the tenacity of nature in a concrete jungle breaks the pattern of straight lines, geometric shapes and man made materials.

Breaking the rule of pattern

Breaking the rule of pattern

Line and pattern are foundational elements because they are so basic to human experience.  Without them our world would lack order and meaning. What are the ways you use lines and patterns in your images, as either symmetrical or asymmetrical elements? We love to hear from you – head on over to our Facebook group Rebel Photographers to share your work.

Cheryl

Next week we’ll explore the other elements of design:  colour, shape & form, texture. 

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