11 : Symmetry

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A visual challenge

"Things that have symmetry are balanced, with each side reflecting the other."


This week we undertake the visual challenge of making photographs showing symmetry, or pictures that use balance and harmony by showing two halves of an image that "are very close in size, shape and position.”

This lesson does not introduce any new camera techniques but it is a quite strict visual assignment. We think it is deceptively hard!

The human eye is naturally drawn toward balance. A symmetrical picture may be equally divided either vertically or horizontally and this assignment requires a methodical approach. You may find yourself slowing down to check composition carefully, making small adjustments until you get it right.

Remember that Shoot Along is about capturing your family, and not about capturing structures or landscapes, so be sure to include people in your photographs. Nonetheless, this week's challenge is a great way to dabble with other genres of photography to add to your visual story!

  photo: Helen Roberts

photo: Helen Roberts


Shooting Tips

  • Keep your camera parallel to the horizon as well as vertically aligned. Any tilt will throw off your composition.
     
  • Place yourself in the center of the alignment, especially when taking a picture involving architectural features like doorways, aisles or arches.
     
  • Be on the lookout for strong lines, which will help make a more dynamic overall composition.
     
  • Your camera's viewfinder may offer a grid similar to the one pictured below. Try turning it "On" using your camera's menu. This can be a great tool to help you line up the elements of your picture.
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Breaking Symmetry


Introducing an element to your photograph that interrupts the balance can be breathtaking. For example, photographing a child on a perfectly symmetrical staircase, but placing the child off to the side rather than directly in the middle. This technique works well if when the composition is strong enough to introduce a visual interruption. If you've managed to get a great symmetrical shot, experiment with ways to break symmetry.

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Creative Prompts

  • Use your local architecture, whether common or grand. Visit civic buildings like train stations, libraries, and churches to find balanced settings. Even the aisles of your grocery store can provide great symmetrical opportunities!
     
  • Reflections in water or shiny countertops create mirror images. Look for puddles, pools or polished surfaces.
     
  • Human bodies are naturally symmetrical! Enlist school-aged children to help make fun symmetrical shapes with their arms and legs, or try to capture the ten toes of a baby.
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Share your images!

As always, we look forward to seeing your images in the Facebook group! If you have never posted a picture, it's fine to start any time. The Facebook group is a positive, no-judgement zone. We also hope that reach out for advice or help if you need it!