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 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.
Images with asymmetrical lines are typically off-centre or created with an odd or mismatched number of elements.
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.
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.
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.
Next week we’ll explore the other elements of design: colour, shape & form, texture.