Monday November 2, 2020

Why You Should Include Visual Patterns in Your Photography

The human eye are instinctively drawn to visual patterns. As a homo sapiens, we are a species that respond to shapes, patterns and order in the chaotic world. Scientists have discovered that human beings have an inclination to create pattern, even when none exists. This can be seen even in our daily lives, which unconsciously follows a pattern. You get disturbed or worried, when that pattern breaks. This article shows you why you should include some visual patterns as a photographer, whether you are a beginner or a professional.

Why Visual Patterns?

For curious human tendencies as such, apophenia can be aptly used. Although it is used in a negative sense, this represents the human tendencies to form pattern in the most mundane objects. This is good for professional photographers as they are “by default” coded with photography language. They know how to make a composition look natural or unnatural. An image can have a primary subject or a complementary one, with a focus on the image concept.

Vermiculations – Patterns of foam and autumn leaves in a back eddy of Duck Brook, Acadia National Park, Maine USA. Photo by Richard Bernabe

Visual Pattern Examples

However, if you are not Ansel Adams or such, then incorporating visual patterns and repetitions can be an interesting photography subject. The dictionary defines patterns as just repetitions, which can be regular or irregular. It can be  symmetric or asymmetric and natural or man-made. Nature is especially full of interesting patterns. For example, a spider’s web or a seashell can represent various forms of repetitive lines and shapes that are interesting to capture.

Similarly the fall of autumn leaves, migration of birds or a herd of animals grazing on the field can represent pattern. These are the subjects that a photographer encounters in everyday lives. You do not need to travel to far off places to shoot them. You will be surprised exactly how much visual pattern can landscape photography and wildlife photography have.

Image by David Mark

Tips for Shooting Visual Patterns

  • Looking around you is the number way to see what is unseen to the normal eye. An old house around the corner can be composed of interesting shapes and lines. Sand on the beach can be soothing to capture, as waves crash in. Humans are biologically programmed to find patterns, so it shouldn’t be hard if you just look around.
  • Another interesting way is to fill the image frame with the patterns. This creates a very powerful visual impact right from the corner to the edge of the image. Tessellations in ancient temples, forest shots, shots of the clouds are a wonderful way. You can also rotate your camera and viewfinder to find an interesting perspective of the subject.
  • Break the pattern. Breaking the pattern is a great way to interrupt the monotonous visual chaos. Having said this, as Richard Bernabe says, “A visual anomaly within the pattern can create a powerful focal point.”
  • Play with the perspective. When composing patterns with wide angle shots, you add an interesting twist by changing the perspective of the audience. The foreground can be compelling, so the viewer’s eye can move up the image in a dynamic way. This is often called perspective progression.
Photo by strikers

On the whole, visuals patterns are a striking subject. These are some of the few possibilities that you can create with visuals. However, there is no end to imagination. So take the tips from this article and use it to create something interesting that catches the eye immediately. Do tells us how you enjoyed the article in the comments.



Essential Composition: Visual Patterns by Richard Bernabe, June 2020.

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