Geometric shapes and diagonals in photography

One of the main problems of photography newcomers is that they spend a lot of time thinking about the scenery. They think about photographing landscapes and mountains, of shooting portraits or of photographing clouds. But to improve your photography skills you need to break away from this and learn to look at your subjects abstractly. For a subject or a person you look at in the real world has a completely different impact when you look at them on a two-dimensional image.

Therefore, you need to reduce a composition into its fundamental components like geographical forms and diagonals. So let’s take a closer look on these components of photography and let’s start with the diagonals.

Diagonals in photography

Our eyes like to follow lines and diagonals on two dimensional compositions. You can use this particularity to create tension and dynamic in your photos. Sometimes you can also support the rule of thirds through this. Besides that, diagonals strengthen the depth effect of landscape photos. In our western cultural circle, we are used to read from the left to the right. For that reason we follow the diagonals unconsciously from the left to the right too.

Now take a closer look at the three pictures in the slide show and read the image description.

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    Can you see the diagonal line? It starts at the small bowl on the left passing by trough the other bowls to the upper right corner of the picture.

Geometric shapes

Geometric shapes are clear and they attracting our attention. That’s why they achieve a strong impression in two-dimensional photos. Geometric patterns already have been used in the past by famous painters. Apparently they knew about the psychological impact of those.

Not only that: geometric shapes add structure and can help the viewer to keep his eyes within the frame of the image. Indeed, every shape has its own expression. For example, our mind perceives such shapes like a rectangle or a square as conformity.

Circles are suggesting completeness. Triangles, on the other hand, represent tension, while the lines show some movement and indicate direction in the photo.

Thus, the goal of a photographer is to attract attention of the observer and to captivate him by trying to use geometric shapes in photography as often as he or she can. You will know if you made a good photo by using geometric patterns, when the viewer will say, it’s a succeeded picture, without the ability to explain why it is a good one. But you will know it.

Thus, seeing photographically also means to sensitize your eye for geometric shapes. When you look at a motif that is interesting for you, try to find some lines, diagonals, etc. in it, so you can place it effectively in your composition.

Two forms of geometry

There are two basic forms of geometry: the true one and the perceived one. What does it mean? A true form would be a round window or a rectangular door of a house. In other words, everything that shows you a real and detectable geometric pattern. Take a look at the pictures below to see what I mean.

  • geometric shapes in photography, photography basics, photography for beginners, diagonals in photography

A perceived geometric form could be, for example, three objects in an image, that would form a triangle when connected by an imaginary line. Or it could just be a round subject like sunglasses or an alarm clock. Look at the examples below.

  • geometric shapes in photography, photography basics, photography for beginners

Okay folks, thats it. Please regard this article as an introduction into the exiting world of photography. To learn photography seriously and to improve you skills you should read some books or watch a tutorial. I can recommend this one by Dare Stevens, which is called “Beginning Photography“*, or join Phlearn* from Aaron Nace. And if not done yet, check my other articles about photography for beginners.

*Affiliate link: If you click on the link, no costs will arise for you. If you decide to make a purchase, I will receive a small benefit from the supplier which I would reinvest, to keep this blog alive.

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