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How Shape and Form Come into Play in Fine Art Photography

Posted by Jacob Hawthorne on

What sets regular photography apart from fine art photography? Most people will say that fine art differs in that it  has the ability to promote emotion through the visuals it provides.

Shape and form play a huge role in increasing visual and emotional interest. Different shapes affect us in different ways, and this can occur on a visual or emotional level. We may simply say, ‘that square looks weird in the photo’, or we may not even notice the square shape. Rather it will sink into our subconscious touching us on a deeper level.

Either way, you always want to look out for shape when you are doing your shoots. Here are some ways you can make geometrics work for you.

Defining Shape and Form

Let’s start by getting a clear idea of what shape and form are.

Shape is a 2 dimensional image. It may just be a drawing of a square.

A form has depth in a 3D sense.

There are other elements that come into play when considering shapes and how they appear in photos. These include lines, patterns, textures and colors.

You should also consider whether the shape is geometric or organic. A geometric shape is a definite shape that appears in an image such as a traffic cone.

An organic shape may not be as geometrically perfect. For example, an evergreen tree will have a triangular shape, but it won’t have the definite lines of a triangle.

Shapes can also be created by negative or positive space. A positive shape is an actual shape that is formed by an object. A negative shape is created space that comes between objects such as a round shape that may appear through tree branches.

How Does Shape Affect a Photo?

Different shapes provide different emotional effects. Squares and rectangles have sharp lines and edges that give a sense of stability.

Round shapes are more open.

Triangular shapes have points and angles that draw the eye.

Playing with Shapes

If you don’t like the role the shape is playing in your photo, there are ways to change the way it appears. For one, you can work with your editing program to soften lines or completely eliminate shapes in post.

You can also change the angle of the photo so that certain shapes aren’t as prominently featured.

A different angle can make a shape seem larger or smaller or it can alter the appearance of the shape so that it doesn’t seem as rigid.

Moving light can also affect the way the image appears. If the light is coming from the side of the image, it will create depth. If it directed in any other angle, the shape will look more two dimensional.

Different focal lengths will also change the appearance of a shape. A wide angle lens will distort straight lines making the shape look less defined. Other lenses will provide a clearer image.

Seeing Lines

Lines are just as powerful as shapes when it comes to giving pictures a sense of stability. Be sure to look out for lines when you are shooting as they will add to the emotional effect of the image.

Create Patterns

You may see one shape in your photo or you may see many shapes. If you see many shapes, this can establish a pattern. Patterns are pleasing to the eye.

Therefore, you will want to shoot to capture them. Looking out for them as you’re shooting will help you create a more interesting photo.

Pay Attention to Negative Space

As mentioned earlier in the article, shapes can be made from positive or negative space. The shapes created by negative space are more difficult to find. However, being able to detect these shapes and capitalize on them will make your photos stronger.

When taking pictures, look out for the shapes created by positive and negative space and try to create a balance. This will make for a stronger image that stands out from others of its kind.

Pay Attention to Triangles

Triangles bring attention to a specific object. If you have one in your photo, consider where it is pointing. This will make all the difference in the effect your photo has on viewers.

Shapes have a dynamic effect in photos. Learning how to use them will help you take your photos to the next level. The tips in this article give you a good idea of what to expect when it comes to making the most of the shapes that appear in your images. How will you be incorporating them to add visual interest?

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