Many designers go into photography. Do photographers want to become designers? Photography and design overlap in many ways. If you haven’t thought about it yet, see how design can change the way you approach photography.
Today we’re going to look at some basic design elements and principles that can be applied to photography. By weaving these elements into your work, you can improve your pictures and you’ll definitely become stronger as a photographer. Our tips will help you take extraordinary photographs and, we hope, make you think more carefully about your creative choices.
How do design elements and principles apply to photography?
There are photos that make you stop and take in every detail, and those that don’t hold the slightest interest. And that’s because, contrary to popular belief, there are still rules in photography. Concepts such as the rule of thirds or the Golden Ratio are prime examples of formulas that lead to success.
Many times in the process of shooting, you make creative choices – what to shoot, how to frame the images. In that sense, you become the designer and create the end result. This is where the elements and principles of design come into play, helping you justify your decisions from a design perspective.
Design elements used in photography
The clever use of color (or color accents) is a powerful enough technique to evoke many emotions in the viewer. Color makes such a powerful impression precisely because people don’t usually pay that much attention to it. Through color, photography conveys loud messages that are worth experimenting with.
Geometry and form should not be confused. Geometry in photography refers to two-dimensional objects. For example, if you photograph trees against the background of a sunset and you can see their outlines clearly, it’s a photograph with an emphasis on geometry. Working with the geometry of the image does not affect the depth and shadows.
With the right lighting, any textured surface can be brought to life. Like image geometry, texture is also very dependent on the type of lighting. The whole point of texture is in the details, so take close-up photos of interesting textures, emphasizing their uniqueness with light.
There are two types of space – positive (primary) and negative (secondary). Think about how you can utilize space to add emotion and drama to your photos. You can, for example, use a small negative space to highlight your subject and make it seem larger than it really is. Similarly, you can use large spaces to make objects appear smaller than their size. Experimenting with this type of composition will give your work an artistic effect and make it memorable.
Shape differs from geometry in that it focuses more on the three-dimensional position of the object. How light interacts with and illuminates an object will determine the aesthetic appeal of a photograph. In this example, you can visually appreciate the whimsical curves and amazing beauty of stone blocks – thanks to the way the light accentuates their shapes.
Design principles used in photography
A coherent or harmonious photograph is shot and composed so well that no element seems superfluous or unnecessary. Integrity or harmony can be expressed through the simplicity or juxtaposition of different elements to form one harmonious whole. This is a rather abstract principle that is difficult to grasp, so it will be easier to explain it with the following example. You can crop this image in different ways, and every time you get a perfect image, because everything in it is coherent and harmonious.
Balance can be achieved in many ways, because it does not mean that the pictures have to be perfectly symmetrical. Balance in photos can be achieved through asymmetry, radial alignment, proportion, etc.
A good example of hierarchy is the Golden Ratio. Hierarchy is a style of composition that guides the viewer through the image. Visual hierarchy is achieved by displaying the elements of a photograph according to their importance. This way, your viewers perceive and notice each detail in the photo in order of importance.
Proportion is the most fun and fun design principle to experiment with in photography. You can use proportion to change the ratio of an object to the entire image. And don’t forget the rule of thirds, which visually balances photos.
Visual emphasis is achieved through playing with the depth of field of field. Accent can be used to create a dominant subject of a photograph to distract the viewer’s attention to certain elements of the image. To achieve an artistic effect, accent can also be achieved through symmetry.
The most striking examples of image contrast can be seen in black and white photography, where the balance of black and white creates a visually stunning effect. You can work out the contrast by photographing colors that are opposite each other on the color wheel. Contrasting the sizes and different elements as well as the light and dark parts of an image can greatly enhance the quality of your photos and make them visually more interesting.
Each image conveys your individual aesthetic. One way or another, you already apply all these elements and principles. We’ve given you just a few tricks that can take a photo from “not bad” to “great”. Your creative choices will affect composition and style. So it’s worth refreshing your knowledge of the basics once in a while, and focusing on working out new aspects in your work. Applying design elements to your photos is another way to add variety, versatility and a new level of quality to your portfolio.