7 Essential Elements of Photography

Learn about 7 essential elements for photographic composition: line, tone, texture, shape, space, color & unity.

7 Essential Elements of Photography

As a photo artist, your knowledge and understanding of the different elements of photography can be essential to the success of your composition and help to convey the meaning of your photograph. It is impossible for a photograph to have no lines. The power of design lies in the lines and how they are used. Lines, specifically the main lines, direct the viewer to the focal point of an image.

This is probably the first way we learn to use lines as a design element in photography. But lines are much more than just using them as pointers. Lines, like all design elements, also transmit a message and influence the mood of an image. It all depends on the type of line and how it is used. Tone is the contrast between light and dark in an image, the dynamic range.

This is particularly evident in black and white photographs, because color doesn't distract the eye. Texture serves a couple of purposes in photography. It gives an image of what I consider touchable. The texture of an image helps us forget that a photograph is two-dimensional, adding depth and helping to make it appear more three-dimensional.

When composing an image, you should see the world as forms, rather than as objects. Forms are a language in and of themselves. For example, if I ask you to think of a happy figure, it will definitely not be pointed or jagged. When a figure is photographed solely because of its shape, such as a silhouette, the lack of a play of light and shadow makes it two-dimensional. The shape is similar to the shape, except that adding light and, therefore, shadow, makes the shape appear three-dimensional.

So shape adds depth to an image. The space in an image is determined by the presence of the subject. The location of the subject in space and its size affect the sensation of the image and, therefore, can transmit different messages. However, if they're small and have a lot of space around them, they seem vulnerable. Color is a very powerful element of composition in photography.

Brands invest an enormous amount of time and energy in color, because they are very aware of how color affects our emotions. However, the use of color in photographic composition is not limited to the dominant warm tones, such as red, orange, or calm blues and greens. It's about how the combination of colors in color schemes affects an image. The balance of an image can be created or broken by the choice of colors as well as by the size of the color.

In other words, if a color is dominant, such as red, its visual weight is greater than blue. So, with this in mind, using the principle of unity in photography as an example, you want all your elements to form a cohesive message. Line: delicate verticals of trees; main curved line; RoadTone — light and airy; Texture — Smooth — its posture creates a dynamic triangle; Triangular shape — defined by light from edge on arm towards camera on left; Hat with flat light on face; Color — warm earthy colors; Space — space to move and breathe; Move towards image; Invite viewer along line — diagonal and converging lines that end in ShottOne — deep intense shadows on subject that create ContrastTexture — rough texture in SubjectShape — solid repetitive rectangles in background that echo its shape except for arm that creates triangular shape (intense light that causes intense deep shadows on subject). Color — dark minimal use of color space; Moves towards image leaving viewer behind. With practice you can further improve your photographs by combining multiple formal elements in a single composition. The elements of composition in photography are bricks but principles are planes: how to use bricks.

Formal elements are visual features that when applied to composition have potential to transform simple subjects into excellent shots. Most common use of textures is as independent elements within larger photograph either to provide depth to subject or fill white spaces among other elements. Once you've mastered each element and how they work you can start applying them to shots on multitude of image subjects. There are several design elements known as formal elements that all photographers should consider when thinking about composition of their images. So since I want you to understand how important it is to know photographic composition here is introduction to elements of design in photographic composition and how to use them. Shape created in photograph by elements such as door area around tree or tiles in bathroom; Elements are “rules” basic components that help us build image; Plus we love good news so if our tips on design elements have helped you understand how to use composition elements in photography share it too.

Kristopher Donofrio
Kristopher Donofrio

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