Rules of Photography – Composition, The Shape of Things

Rules of Photography – Composition, The Shape of Things

The Shape of things

It’s not just the lines in your image that dictate how our eyes move across it.  The shape (or format) is just as important.

Horizontal pictures (or Landscape format) encourage our eyes to move from side to side.  Vertical pictures (or portrait format) make them move up and down.

Choosing the format has nothing to do with whether you’re shooting landscape of portraits.  Instead, try to match the format of your picture to the dominant lines – of natural flow – of your subject.   This means the shape of your picture and the subject matter will work together to guide your eye in one clear direction.

The Rebbe by Marc Asnin

The Rebbe by Marc Asnin 1992

In this photograph by Marc Asnin the landscape format prompts our eyes to glide from left to right along the undulating line of heads.  It’s a busy scene, but the landscape format creates order by drawing out this leading line, which in turn communicates the acute sense of drama.

Look at the Ansel Adams image in portrait format accentuates the hanging weight of the monolithic rock face.  The gravity of the lines works in tandem with the vertical shape of the images, making our eyes sink from the top to the bottom.

by Ansel Adams

Monolith, The Face of Half Dome, Yosemite National Park by Ansel Adams 1927



















Blesma Members can post their example of ‘The Shape of Things’ into, The Rules of Photography Album, found within the Blesma Photography Facebook Group.  Click here to go directly to the album.


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