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What Is Symmetry in Photography? (How to Really Use It)

Last updated: January 25, 2024 - 8 min read
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Using symmetry in photography is a great way to turn simple photos into eye-catching ones. And the good news is that symmetry is everywhere. And you can use it for almost every type of photography!

In this article, we’ll tell you what symmetry in photography is and some creative ways to use it in your photos. All you need is your camera and this quick tutorial full of tips and ideas.

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The Importance of Symmetry in Photography

Symmetrical photos stand out because they’re attractive to the eye. Humans are drawn to visual aesthetics and compositions that work in harmony.

Imagining a simple photo of a fruit might not be too exciting for you. But you can turn on into an engaging composition with the help of symmetrical photography knowledge.

Visual attraction isn’t the only thing that makes symmetry so important. With symmetrical photography, you’ll be able to find potential in the simplest things. You might get inspired by a symmetrical plant even if you don’t shoot still-life photography, for example.

Knowledge of symmetry will improve your imagination and help you find opportunities all around.

an exciting still life composition featuring fruit, shot with the help of symmetry in photography

In the photo below, the leading lines coming from the bottom corners of the photo naturally lead the eye to the lighthouse. Even though the clouds in the background aren’t perfectly symmetrical, they don’t ruin the image. Symmetry isn’t always about perfection, but it can be used to enhance compositions of all kinds.

Another benefit to understanding symmetry is knowing how to work with leading lines. A seemingly busy location can look perfect if you know where to shoot from.

Knowing how to use leading lines will also help you add depth to your photos. Instead of looking flat, your compositions will have shape and meaning. This makes your symmetrical images stand out even more.

Once you learn how to take symmetrical photos, you can use your newfound skills to find your own style. For example, as a landscape photographer, you can use symmetry to create powerful compositions with reflections.

A symmetrical photo of a lighthouse at evening time

The 4 Most Common Types of Symmetry in Photography

Symmetry exists in different forms, from simple rotational symmetry to more complicated fractal symmetry.

You can experiment with as many types of symmetry as you like. Here are the most common ones that many photographers like to include in their photos.

Vertical Symmetry

Vertical symmetry is the most common type of symmetry. Draw an imaginary vertical line at the center of your composition. If both sides are symmetrical, your photo will look visually appealing.

Vertical symmetry doesn’t always have to focus on the center of your composition. Take a look at the photo of the books below. They’re located at the bottom of the photo, which makes the photo asymmetrical on the horizontal plane. But you can take a more conventional approach and make sure that your subjects are centered.

Vertical symmetry is often used in architectural photography. It emphasizes the size, shape, and design of buildings.

A still life of old books using symmetry in photography composition

Horizontal Symmetry

Take your imaginary line and place it horizontally at the center of your composition. Horizontal compositions are often used in landscape photography. And they’re perfect when a body of water is present.

This can be confused with reflective symmetry. The difference is that horizontal symmetry doesn’t necessarily have to feature a reflection. Reflective symmetry always does.

A stunning mountainous landscape with a lake adding reflection and depth - symmetry in photography

Radial Symmetry

If you’re mesmerized by circular shapes, you’ll love radial symmetry. This type of symmetry usually involves shapes that go around and around with the same patterns.

This is often associated with ripples. But it can also be used to photograph succulents, domes, wheels, etc.

You can also combine several kinds of symmetry to take your photos to the next level. For example, the photo below features both radial and vertical symmetry.

Atmospheric mountainous landscape with a lake adding reflection and depth - symmetry in photography

Reflective Symmetry

As its name suggests, reflective symmetry is all about reflections. You can find reflections in water, glass surfaces, and buildings.

Look at the photo below. The left side of the photo is the actual highway, while the right side of the photo is the highway reflected off the glass of the skyscraper.

Aerial photo of a sprawling highway reflected in a building

What Equipment Do I Need to Take Better Symmetrical Photos?

You don’t need to invest in fancy camera equipment to take great symmetrical photos. But your shooting process will be easier with the following tools.

A high-quality tripod will help you focus on your composition without worrying about shaky hand movements or crooked horizons.

A bubble level will help you keep your horizon level. This will help you take straight photos that won’t need to be cropped.

A shutter remote will help you take photos from a distance. This is great for self-portraits and long-exposure photography. It’s also great for taking photos without touching the camera to avoid camera shake.

A DSLR camera set up on a tripod to take symmetry in nature photographyArtificial Symmetry in Photography

You can create symmetry with the help of an app or an editing program. Artificial symmetry is fun to work with. Especially if you’ve already taken photos that aren’t symmetrical or if you just want to test your creativity.

I wouldn’t recommend using artificial symmetry in photography too often. It may stop you from improving your skills and finding creative potential elsewhere. But it’s a great technique to use from time to time.

In architecture photos, for example, airplanes and birds are often added to symmetrical photos. This emphasizes symmetry and fills the negative space.

Interesting composition of an airplane framed by a multilayered glass building

Symmetrical Photography Inspiration

Here are a few ideas to spark your creativity. Use them as inspiration to embrace symmetry in photography.

1. Look for Symmetry at an Event

You should definitely experiment with architectural, landscape, and still-life photography when you take symmetry photography. But you should also try to be spontaneous, especially when you’re at live events.

The unpredictability of events can lead to a lot of unexpected photo opportunities.

Look at the photo below. The photographer created symmetry using fireworks, which usually last a few seconds. This is a great example of horizontal and reflective symmetry.

A firework display at night - symmetry in photography
2. Make Your Own Symmetrical Lines

You might not be able to find symmetry in nature all the time. And if you can’t, you can create your mini studio and take symmetrical photos at any time.

Make a DIY light box or create a flat-lay background and emphasize symmetry by placing an object on those lines.

This will help you improve your symmetrical photography skills. Using a DIY studio like this will also help you become a better studio photographer.

A quirky product shot of an alarm clock demonstrating symmetry in photography due to the central composition and split color background
3. Take a Symmetrical Self-Portrait

Symmetry in photography is often associated with non-living objects like buildings. But it can also include people.

Self-portraiture is a fantastic way to get better at finding good compositions without always being behind the camera. If you don’t want to show your face in your self-portraits, you can take photos of your silhouette, like in the photo below.

To make the process easier, make sure you use a sturdy tripod and a remote. Since you’ll have to focus on posing and symmetry at the same time, try to simplify the rest of the photo. The more comfortable you feel, the easier it will be to take photos you’ll be proud of.

Stunning portrait of a lone figure on a beach below a colorful sunset - symmetry in photography

4. Find Symmetrical Lines in Animal Photography

If you want to challenge yourself even more, focus on finding symmetry in animals. If you don’t have easy access to wild animals, you can take photos of pets instead.

Animals can be very difficult to work with because they don’t pose for the camera. This will make your photo shoot harder. But it will also make your successful shots more unique than a simple still-life photo. Many animals have perfectly symmetrical faces, which makes them the ideal subjects for vertical symmetry.

Wildlife portrait of a deer demonstrating symmetry in nature photography

5. Take a Photo of Your Favorite Building

You can’t get into symmetrical photography without experimenting with architectural photography at least once in your life. Even if buildings don’t inspire you, try to see potential in them. Take the time to find patterns and space and incorporate them into your photos.

The best way to achieve this is to photograph a building that speaks to you. This could be your childhood home, a unique tourist attraction, or any building that makes you feel happy.

Focus on colors, height, depth, and details. Take photos of the building at different times of the day. Your results will not only reflect your skills but also capture something that means a lot to you.

This quaint building stands out because of its symmetry, vibrant colors, and warm lights on the first floor. Unusual buildings that stand out from the crowd are the perfect subjects for symmetrical photography.

A quaint red building stands out because of its symmetry, vibrant colors, and warm lights

6. Challenge Yourself by Taking Photos With Your Smartphone Camera

Smartphone photography is becoming more and more popular. This is thanks to technological advances and social platforms like Instagram.

This doesn’t mean you have to ditch your beloved camera equipment and become a smartphone photographer. But temporarily replacing your DSLR with a smartphone might help you look at the world from a new perspective.

If you don’t like smartphone photography, you can still use it to your advantage. If you travel a lot, you can take snapshots of locations that you want to revisit later. You can then observe your results to come up with compositional ideas. And then you can return to the locations fully prepared.

A photo of a wooden pier using symmetry in photography composition

Conclusion—Using Symmetry in Photography

Symmetrical photography will show you how to add more depth, vibrance, and clarity to your images. You don’t have to pursue symmetry in photography your entire career. But give it a try at least once, especially if you’re stuck in a photography rut. Your skills will improve, and you’ll have fun trying to find symmetry in your surroundings.

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