Skip to main content

Mastering Photographic Composition and Visual Storytelling

Lesson 24 of 50

Elements of Design - Shape


Mastering Photographic Composition and Visual Storytelling

Lesson 24 of 50

Elements of Design - Shape


Lesson Info

Elements of Design - Shape

in the same way distinct lines help define the visual story. The same could be said of shape. Some shape such a squares, rectangles and triangles or keyboards and pyramids typically depicts turning us and solidity. Imagine trying to topple over a pyramid and you'll get my point in a photograph. That solidity also creates status and the lack of visual energy on a triangle. A pyramid upside down, however, and it's prone to topple over all on its own is no longer stable and static is wobbly, andan balanced again. The visual implication is emitted energetically and psychologically so as to create a feeling of uneasiness, an imbalance in the viewer on Because an unbalanced objects suggest movement, it creates visual energy. Triangles can also be leading lines pointing into or out of the image space, drawing attention to the subject or area of the scene or taking you out of the space altogether. They are also strong metaphors. Sharp points are associated with danger and pain, so the triangle...

s formed by the jagged edges of a mountain range, for example, might reminders of a sore or serrated knife. All of these associations implications, metaphors and assumptions transmit emotive energy from the photograph to the viewer on their psychological effects must be considered when you're composing the image circles and ellipses, which have no beginning or end lead nowhere. Instead, they frame and enclose whatever is contained inside them. In this case, May, which holds the viewer's gaze to the exclusion of everything else. In that sense, whether implicit or like an archway, implied circles may be employed as a compositional tool for visually removing distracting detail circles, also a symbol of rhythm and unity. The Olympic emblem, for example, represents the Union of the five continents. However, another word for Enclosed is entrapped, which brings with it connotations of constraint. As with all other shapes, each of these overtones and intimations must be considered when composing a photograph. So how does this work in practice? Well, to answer that question in the next lesson, I'm going to take you back to one of my favorite photographic locations. Marrakech. No

Class Description



  • Compose a shot consistently and effectively
  • Create artistic, powerful images quickly
  • Gain confidence in building narrative
  • Identify what stories you’re drawn to photograph
  • Brainstorm and develop concepts for creative shots
  • Trust your instincts when approaching a subject


CreativeLive is partnering with Chris Weston to offer you his Complete Photography Master Course. This is the second class in the series.

Today, everybody has a camera, but that doesn’t mean everyone’s a photographer. Chris Weston will show you how to do all the other stuff – how to “see” an image, tap into your creativity, and compose a photograph that makes the subject look as good in print as it does in real life.

This class isn’t about cameras, it’s about you – the photographer. It will break free your creative mind, get you thinking about narrative rather than object, and show you how to apply simple artistic skills that turn that next click into a powerful photograph.

Learn how to approach photography like a pro and start creating great pictures straight away. With in-the-field lessons, case studies and powerful tips and techniques, you’ll quickly unleash your creativity and gain confidence in expressing yourself through your camera.


  • Beginner photographers
  • First time DSLR or mirrorless camera users
  • Any photographer who wants to hone their artistic skills


Named one of the world's most influential wildlife photographers, Chris Weston takes a contemporary approach to photography. After launching his career in 2001, the Fujifilm ambassador's images have graced the pages of top publications like BBC, The Times, Outdoor Photography, Practical Photography, and Digital Photography. As a photography educator, Chris has written over 20 photography books, along with leading photo tours and online workshops.


Silvia Garcia

Excellent ! Will see it many times to digest all the messages here. Important info on composition theory. Very well explained. Go to the essence of photography. Thanks, Chris !

a Creativelive Student

Absolute must to watch! Perhaps few times, as is packed with all the information you need to know to make your photography to the next level. I think it is the most comprehensive class on composition. Fantastic!


fabulous course no matter how advanced you are.. LEarned so much from it. I'll watch it again as it contains so much.