Composition 101 – Symmetry

As much as we hate to admit it, we humans are very alike.  Really, if we weren’t there would be no psychiatrist or psychologist because they wouldn’t be able to make generalizations about people.  This can be used to your advantage in photography.


The quality of being made up of exactly similar parts facing each other or around an axis.

People like to look at symmetrical images, reflections, images where the frame follows the rule of thirds, etc…  Each rule was created based on the fact that generally, most everyone finds images that follow said rule agreeable.

JMB_9595-2Images with symmetry can often be flipped upside down or side to side without taking away from the appeal of the image.  The image directly above this paragraph is upside down, the one at the top of the page is right-side up.  Symmetry does not have to take up the entire image nor does it have to be from left to right or right to left.

The image below could be viewed from left to right or right to left and it wouldn’t really matter…  Go ahead, look at it in a mirror, you should see a reversed reflection of the picture and your reflection…  If you don’t see your reflection in the mirror you’re likely a vampire.

JMB_9493Often, I’ll incorporate symmetry into my photography, especially architecture photography, because it has a way of catching viewers attention.  Symmetry in photography gives the viewer a sense of balance and ease.

DSCF0721Start looking for symmetry in your photography and eventually it will be second nature, you’ll recognize interesting scenes while walking down the street with or without your camera.  You’ll train your mind to more readily recognize symmetry in the world around you.

It’s important to remember that, like in the first image above, symmetry does not have to encompass the entire frame.  You can have areas of the frame that incorporate symmetry like in the reflection in the top image.

JMB_9560Don’t worry if the image isn’t perfectly symmetrical, the image above uses symmetry to grab your attention but on further inspection you’ll notice it’s not true to the definition of symmetry.  Still though, your mind sees the relationship.

If you liked what you read, please share it.  You can leave your thoughts in the comments below.  If an article you read here inspires you to create some great photography you can share it with us on the Facebook page or in the PhotolisticLife Flickr page.

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