Emphasize Patterns in Composition

Graphic elements such as shapes, lines, colors and forms, appear more powerful when they are repeated and become patterns. In photography, patterns in your composition can provide a strong and distinct visual impact that can quickly hook a viewer’s attention.

Patterns are Everywhere You Look

The world around us is filled with patterns. They can be found in nature, from the petals of a tiny flower to the rows of tall trees in the woods. They are also evident in man-made structures, such as the many windows of skyscrapers and the steel bars of bridges. When looking for patterns to use in your composition, you do not even need to go out of your house. The key is to be observant, and to notice patterns that may easily be overlooked.


Photo by SidPix

Fill the Frame with Patterns

By filling up the image frame with just patterns, your composition becomes more graphic and eye-catching. It would seem as if the patterns can extend beyond the edges of the frame and gives the impression that they are endless. Bear in mind that the more times the elements are repeated, the busier and stronger the pattern becomes, to the point where it might be hard on the eyes.


Photo by Lauren Manning

Combine Two or More Patterns

You can be creative with using patterns in your composition by displaying more than one kind of pattern in your photograph. In this example below, you can see patterns in the repeating squares and oblongs, the colors and the lines. The combination of all these result in a vibrant and fascinating image. Again, be careful with using too many kinds of patterns, because there is the danger of going overboard and your photo can become more of an eyesore instead of eye candy.


Photo by Lauren Manning

Patterns Can Trigger an Emotional Response

Patterns in composition are also powerful because they can evoke an emotional response from the viewer. For example, the asymmetrical patterns of water rivulets on a beach can be soothing to look at and make one feel cheerful and tranquil. On the other hand, an image of red slashes on a white wall can be disturbing and provide a dark fascination for the viewer.


Photo by Franco Folini

Break Patterns for Effect

The repetitive elements of patterns in a photographic composition can evoke the sense of consistency and predictability. Therefore, a break in the pattern can startle the viewer, and yet be effective in adding to the visual impact. This break can become a focal point in the shot and needs to be strategically placed in the frame, for instance by applying the Rule of Thirds.


Photo by Zeze57

Play with Monochromatic Patterns

With the absence of color, the rest of the graphic composition elements become emphasized, and even more so when these are repeated into patterns. Shapes, lines and forms are more obvious and can provide strong graphic imagery. Black and white photos with great tonal contrast and distinct patterns will keep viewers riveted.


Photo by Vinoth Chandar

Patterns can greatly enhance your photos and catch the eye of the viewer. They can be used to create strong compositions and provoke an emotional response. Look for patterns around you and transform ordinary objects and mundane scenes into gorgeous graphic images.

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