Photo Composition – Using Symmetry

Guitar Photograph by Scott Bourne (AKA BigScottyMusic)

Today’s photo is designed to illustrate the value of using symmetry in your compositions.

It’s also a good illustration of repeating objects.

The subject of this photograph is my Danelectro Longhorn bass guitar. The composition tightly frames only a small portion of the instrument. This particular guitar has a very unique shape. That’s where it gets its name. “Longhorn” — like the steer.

So I decided to play with that and just framed the two prongs of the longhorn design. This creates symmetry. Symmetry means there is a correspondence in size, form, and arrangement of parts on opposite sides of a plane, line, or point; regularity of form or arrangement in terms of like, reciprocal, or corresponding parts.

When this is done properly, it also will often provide a second compositional technique known as repeating objects. Here, we see the longhorn prong repeat on the left and the right. This creates balance in the image. The average person’s eye prefers balance to discord or dissonance (musical terms that can be applied to art) in a composition. I will note that both have their place., but I usually prefer balance.

As we know, there aren’t really any hard and fast rules in photography. But there are tried and true methods of getting results that are generally pleasing to the eye. The proper use of symmetry is one of those. If I can apply it to a guitar photograph, you can apply it to the subjects of your photographs. Give it a try.

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