Symmetry

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"Why we are drawn to images with balance and reflection, and how to achieve this in your own photography."

Written by Teagan Cunniffe

 

Symmetry is entrenched in nature, from patterns on sea shells to the spiralling leaves of an aloe to the proportions of our very own faces. Repetitive pattern and balance are a foundation for our understanding of beauty – the more even and symmetrical a subject, the more we feel pleased by and attracted to it. This has inspired us to produce artworks and architecture harmonious to the eye. Artists have long used this powerful compositional tool to create balance and to support meaning, from Da Vinci’s famous The Last Supper and Vitruvian Man to modern examples of Judith Braun’s symmetrical finger-painting, or mandalas and henna designs for cultural ceremonies. Humans subconsciously look for pattern and order as we attempt to understand our surroundings. Symmetry is one of the most powerful forms of pattern, and ultimately, perfection.

 

Photography by Amirul Hakim (Myrulee)

Images by Amirul Hakim (Myrulee)

 

As photographers, we can use this compositional tool to create compelling imagery with strong visual impact. In a perfectly symmetrical image, one half of the image is exactly mirrored by the other, divided by an imagined line called a ‘line of symmetry’. These lines can be horizontal, vertical and diagonal in direction. Perfect mirroring is hard to achieve- often the images and objects we come across display ‘near’ or ‘approximate’ symmetry.

 

 

“Symmetry gets something special in my eyes. I'm always trying to find which angle can make good symmetry. Symmetry can tell audience about the eyes of photograph. Balance it's important for good symmetrical but it's nothing if you do not have an "angle".”

- Amirul Hakim (Myrulee), Photographer, Malaysia

 

 

Photography by Amirul Hakim (Myrulee)

Images by Amirul Hakim (Myrulee)

 

Urban environments are fantastic places to look for symmetry. Architects create buildings, bridges, roads and structures to be well-proportioned and balanced, offering photographers endless creative options. Away from the city, it’s easier to find symmetry on a macro level, such as in subjects like flowers and plants. 

 

Photography by Amirul Hakim (Myrulee)

Image by Amirul Hakim (Myrulee)

 

Compose your scene carefully. Place your point of interest in the centre of your frame so that the viewer’s focus falls directly on it. An image with good symmetry will have an eye-catching point of interest as well as a strong composition. Zoom in to exclude parts of the image that interfere with the symmetrical pattern, or crop later in post-production.

 

 

"I choose the city and streets because every city in world has something unique about its architecture. I try to spot straight lines like bridges, apartments, escalators, churches and many more. The objects (subjects) I use are people in the frame, and surfaces I use for reflecting are glass or wet floors."

- Amirul Hakim (Myrulee), Photographer, Malaysia

 

 

Photography by Amirul Hakim (Myrulee)

Images by Amirul Hakim (Myrulee)

 

For perfectly symmetrical images, find a reflective surface. This can be anything from glass on a skyscraper to a household mirror or puddle of water- the key is to place your camera against the surface to show the world in duplicate. The best reflections form when the subject is illuminated, so position the sun at your back or at your shoulder when shooting. Some people even carry a bottle of water along with them to create their own puddles as they travel.

 

Photography by Amirul Hakim (Myrulee)

Images by Amirul Hakim (Myrulee)

 

Look for strong, directional leading lines to draw the viewers eye into the image. They can be found everywhere, be it in an underground subway, a church’s ceiling, a bridge or path of a forested pathway. Once you’ve found a leading line,  move yourself so that the line travels towards your subject point. If there are two or more lines to work with, centre yourself between them so that they travel in a harmonious, even direction.

 

Photography by Amirul Hakim (Myrulee)

Images by Amirul Hakim (Myrulee)

 

Always remember, one half of your image should closely resemble and balance the other in structure, shape and colour. Once you start looking for symmetry, you will notice it popping up everywhere and you’ll soon be creating striking symmetrical images of your own.

 

 

 

 

Written by

 

Teagan Cunniffe is a travel and lifestyle photographer based in Cape Town, South Africa. Her office is as frequently a desk as it is an airport or a mountain side, and is a firm believer in unscripted travel leading you to the best encounters and experiences. You can follow her on @tea_cunniffe or www.teagancunniffe.com.

 

 

Images by

Amirul Hakim A.K.A Myrulee is a Malaysian Street and City Photographer. With his impressive street style and eye for sharp composition, Amirul's work is capivating and invites his audience to explore the city-scape as he captures symmetry, leading lines, and unusual perspectives. Find more of his work on Instagram page @myrulee.

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