Using Repetition in Photography

The word 'repetition' in everyday life can be connoted to monotony which often leads to being boring or tedious. However, when used in photography, it provides structure which makes the image very attractive to viewers. We are seeing order as opposed to chaos and this is what hooks our interest and propels us from just looking at an image to actually experiencing it because of its emotional impact.

The world around us is full of patterns and all we have to do is look. It is oftentimes easy to take what we see for granted. By focusing on the repeating elements of a subject, we can uplift it from looking mundane into something more extraordinary.

By using repetition, we are making our composition more powerful. If an element is repeated many times, it creates patterns which can strengthen the image. There are many ways to show repetition:

Repeating shapes – shapes are very effective in expressing repetition. Circles, squares, triangles and other geometric shapes are used in the composition to provide tension. They can also be found almost everywhere you look, from the curves of hills and sand dunes to the rectangular bricks making up a wall.

Repeating colors – colors are another way to show repetition or patterns. Even if the shapes may not be the same, balance can still be maintained by having the same color shown at certain areas in the shot.

Repeating lines – this can almost immediately strengthen the image's composition. Repeating lines can draw and keep the viewer's attention. Parallel lines are often found to be pleasing to the eye because of the rhythm they convey.

Vertical and horizontal lines are considered to be more static than diagonal lines which convey movement and have a dynamic effect.

Repeating elements provide unity and a strong visual arrangement. Take note that these patterns are mostly used to support the subject, rather than actually be the subject. If an image shows pure repetition, it stands the chance of overwhelming the viewer. It might also cause confusion since there is no focal point for the eye to rest on. One way to avoid this is to include a component that is not a part of the repeating elements, therefore breaking the pattern. This allows the viewer to have a point of focus and gives dramatic impact to the shot. For example, if you are shooting a tray of eggs, remove one egg and replace it with a colored plastic egg. This small change can elicit surprise and strengthens the connection between the viewer and the image.

This entry was posted on Saturday, June 12th, 2010 at 11:00 am and is filed under Articles, Composition, Photography Techniques. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

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