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6 Creative and Fun Uses for Repetition in Photography

Last updated: March 13, 2024 - 6 min read
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Photography takes the three-dimensional world and puts it onto a two-dimensional surface. Through this process, we can see shapes and forms in different ways. We create rhythms and patterns from the world around us.

This article will explore six creative and fun tips for repetition in photography.  It can be the repetition of color, pattern, scale, or form.

Composition Technique
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Looking for inspiration to take your repetition in photography to the next level? Check out this video course that covers everything your iPhone camera can do, with simple step-by-step video lessons and stunning results.

Repetition In Photography

Below are our top tips for using repetition in photography. Continue reading to learn everything you need to know about using repetition and patterns in your photos.

1. Zoom in to Create Abstract Scenes

If you look hard enough in most places, it’s likely you’ll see repetition somewhere. This could be in blades of grass, floor tiles, apartment buildings, patterns in nature, and so much more.

By zooming into these elements, you can capture a simple pattern that emphasizes the composition. You can photograph these patterns either straight on or at an angle. Each method will provide a unique look at the subject.

The absence of any other form will make the photo more powerful. So it is best to have a long lens for this composition technique. That way, you take the objects out of context to create an abstract look at the world. This can be fun to experiment with and can give you a newfound appreciation for your environment.

Repetition of patterns in a spiraling staircase photographed from above
Ⓒ Karen Vikke

2. Use an Element to Break Repeating Patterns

Once you find these patterns, it can be fun to go against the grain and introduce a new element into the frame. Think of a hot air balloon amongst the clouds or a frog poking its head out of a pond filled with lily pads. This composition technique will add special focus to the subject.

This method is excellent when photographing portraits or models for a fashion shoot. If you choose your location carefully, you will put your model in an entirely new setting. This aesthetic can give the impression of a new world—a place where only your model exists.

Again, it will most likely be easier to achieve this effect with a long focal length lens. This keeps any unwanted elements out of your picture.

 Repetition in photography: A bike leaning up against a wall with repetition of brick patterns
Ⓒ Karen Vikke

3. Find Patterns in Repetition of Colors

Trying to find repetitions in forms can be easy. But when looking for repetition in color, it’s a bit trickier. You might notice situations where the same color repeats in different subjects. This is something to look for in street photography. Maybe a person is wearing the same color T-shirt as a passing car or advertisement behind them.

You don’t have to look out for the same color. Finding repetition in a series of colors is tricky but can be visually pleasing. It is most successful when dealing with complementary colors, gradients, or repetition of two or more particular colors.

Pretend you are Mattise and see if you can split the colors into forms. The repetition will help the photo, but the composition is also important.

Repetition in photography: Repeating patterns of colored doors in the inner courtyard of an apartment building

4. Uncover Repetition in the Rhythm of the World

Sometimes a repeated process or action can produce interesting effects. I’m sure everyone knows the pattern of rings that rainfall causes on a puddle. And most people have seen cars speeding down a motorway. To capture this repetition, one can take that action and make something new out of it.

By studying these elements, you can uncover repetitive patterns and rhythms. Use photography to freeze or lengthen time. The freezing of water droplets can show geometric patterns. Long exposures of planes taking off at an airport create light trails that disppear into the sky.

Finding these hidden patterns in repeated actions and photographing them in a way that creates a new perspective can be a lot of fun. The more creative you get, the more you will get out of the photos.

Repetition in photography: A long exposure photograph of a ferris wheel spinning and showing repetitive circular motion

5. Use Multiple Repeating Patterns in One Image

If you think in the context of patterns, you will often find two or more repeating patterns in the same environment. For example, it could be a fence in front of a brick wall or umbrellas on a beach contrasted with the waves. Placing these two repeating elements together can create some stunning imagery.

This type of image can be challenging to get right. It all depends on what composition technique you use when you identify these two or more elements. I suggest composing your shot in a way that shows only the repeating elements. If there are other subjects in the photo, it can be hard for the viewer to identify the patterns.

Repetition in photography: Aerial photograph of repeating umbrellas on a beach and ocean elements

6. Find Repeating Elements That Cut Through Chaos

Another great photographic technique is to find a consistent pattern in a busy scene. Think of a pipe scaling up the side of a graffitied building or a mountain range cutting through a desolate landscape.

If photographed right, you bring special attention to the subject you are focusing on. This focus can make the ordinary seem unique. You will also notice that this can provide a step back from reality. Your attention will pick up on aspects you could miss in real life, such as the similarities between different patterns in nature.

Tips for repetition in photography: View of a road and a river from above that share the same pattern cutting through a landscape

Conclusion—How to Use Repetition in Photography

Repetition is everywhere. Learning how to photograph it can help you capture some excellent images. Attention to detail will be the difference between success and an average photo. The best way to refine your skills is to get out and practice! When you look for original ways to approach your subject, you’ll take more interesting photos.

You can apply these composition techniques to a range of different photography subgenres. Use repetition in photography as a basic concept to build on. So whether you’re a portrait photographer or a photograph still life, you can find a way to experiment within your niche.

Composition Technique
iPhone Photography School’s Capture it All
Capture It All
Looking for inspiration to take your repetition in photography to the next level? Check out this video course that covers everything your iPhone camera can do, with simple step-by-step video lessons and stunning results.