Symmetry, Balance and Similarity


Composition-Beyond the Rule of Thirds


Lesson Info

Symmetry, Balance and Similarity

Let me get into symmetry and balance. Balance is largely about what we're trying to do through this whole compositional thing, but symmetry creates equilibrium or balance. Seeing symmetry indirectly causes our brian to search for the break in symmetry rather than appreciate the balance which means that even if you are trying to achieve symmetry the brain tries to goes, OK, where is it messed up? That's actually what we look for. And so we have to know that either we really have to nail it, or, we can build in that idea of breaking the symmetry if we want. Our facial symmetry are the foundations of classic definitions of beauty so you actually see in old sculptures and everything else, it's actually about symmetry of the face. But symmetrical compositions can be boring so it kind of falls on you to make your shot even more dynamic. This is just a simple reflection a symmetrical reflection of the landscape just turned sideways. The idea of anomalies or the break in the pattern so we read...

this top down and we go pattern, pattern, pattern, pattern, pattern, but the flag, even though it's in the middle is not symmetrical and the people are just off center, so it gives us something that's just a little bit more visually interesting to focus on by the time we get to the bottom. Now symmetry is balanced but balance does not always mean symmetry. Most rules of composition are here to help you give balance. The rule of thirds, the golden triangles, the ratios, but they're a little bit different. So in the left image we are looking at center composition, but it feels cramped. So by simply offsetting the image using a rule of thirds, the image not only becomes a little bit more visually interesting but it's more balanced. So we're using figure ground, the monument and the monument's reflection have their own space in the image and the couple with the umbrella occupy their own space in the image. So it's all about directing the eye around and giving the eye enough information that it can discern where to go. Then we get into similarity. And similarity says that similar characteristics will often be perceived as a group or a pattern. This is because our brains are wired to recognize patterns. Repetition, especially with slight variations called anomalies can be visually interesting. And this builds on the proximity grouping principal. Creating a pattern and then creating a break in the pattern. It's kind of like giving us a joke. There's this old rule in, I'm going to butcher this, but, in the rule of threes in jokes. You establish the premise, you reinforce the premise and you break the premise. Establish the pattern. Reinforce the pattern. Break it. That's basically what's happening here.

Class Description

You know the basics of composition – now take it to the next level. Good composition is more than following a strict set of rules and guidelines. In fact, those very things can stifle your creativity and make your work fade into the pack of other photographers. In this class, Chris Knight shows you that there is more to composition than a few lines – it’s about creating balance in an image. He’ll introduce the Gestalt Principle and encourage you to look beyond the rule of thirds and utilize contrast, leading lines and more for interesting and dynamic images.



I have to say, perhaps if you are an academic or a college trained photographer/artist/painter etc., this may be old hat to you. However, if you are like me and have never been exposed to definitions and descriptions of composition, this was a shock-and-awe inspiring reveal of these artistic concepts. I can guarantee I will watch these over and over again while I try to absorb even a little of this material, but Creative Live could make an all day class of this guy explaining this material. material he quite obviously loves and uses and his passion for the subject matter is very obvious. This class is making me consider a trip back to the campus to get more information on this subject. Quick, contract Chris Knight to develop a whole class before I end up in college!!! Highly recommend this class.

Matthew De Moraes

Really useful tips and tricks to improve your understanding of composition and why you like the images you like - which you can then use to further your own ability to take great images in camera.

a Creativelive Student

What a FANTASTIC presentation! I loved it. Best instruction I have ever seen/read as a graphic designer for 33 years. I majored in art and graphic communications in college before becoming a designer. Well done Chris. Definitely buying the class.