Photography Composition: Shape

Photography Composition: Shape

The way subjects connect to each other in a photo forms shapes that draw the eye from subject to subject. If the photo composition lacks shape, then the photo becomes too busy and awkward to appreciate. You can learn more about shapes and how they relate to photography by considering our online photography course by clicking here.

Some shapes are more effective than others in providing an interesting frame for your photo. For instance, squares and circles tend to be too symmetrical and leave too much empty space around the subjects. The shapes that work best for composition are triangles and diamonds.

Triangles can be formed a few different ways:

If your subject is already triangular or diamond-shaped (like a pyramid), the viewer’s eye will automatically focus on that shape.


photo by aussiegal

Groups of people can be posed as an irregular triangle. This helps keep people from creating a shapeless blob in a portrait; and an irregular (slanted) triangle makes sure that no two pairs of eyes will lie on the same horizontal plane.

Different landmarks can be one of three points that form the triangle. For instance, a person at the forefront of the photo is the first point, a boat far behind the person forms the second point, and an island on the other side of the frame forms the third point. As long as no other objects enter the frame, the eye can easily follow the photo from the person, to the boat, to the island.

Also, a diagonal line can divide the photo in two, creating two contrasting triangular sides. This stresses the difference between the two sides. For instance, if you allow a fence to bisect your frame on the diagonal, the boundary between the busy highway on one side and the lazy, green pastures on the other is emphasized.

Moving your objects around until your find these pleasing shapes enables you to add dramatic effects to subjects that would otherwise be seen as ordinary.

Take a look at these:

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Other photography articles of interest:
Photography Color Psychology
Photography Color Balance and Highlighting
Photography Composition
Photography Composition: Line
Photography Composition: Shape
High Key Photography

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