SYMMETRY refers to a line that splits an object in half and, if both sides of the object are an exact mirror image of each other, then this object is said to be symmetrical. The line that splits a symmetrical object is called the line of symmetry. Symmetry is a powerful tool that lets you automatically create harmony and a sense of aesthetically pleasing balance and proportion in a photograph. You probably remember learning about symmetry in geometry class, but I rarely see photographers apply it in their work. That’s too bad, because symmetry is a powerful photographic tool. Symmetry is all around us and has always been associated with beauty, so why not use it? Depending on how you are holding the camera and how much of a scene you choose to show, you can strengthen or weaken the symmetric properties of an object or scene. Although there are many types of symmetries, for our purpose let’s focus on two types:
- Vertical Line of Symmetry (VLS): If an object’s line of symmetry is perpendicular to the horizon line, it has a vertical line of symmetry.
- Horizontal Line of Symmetry (HLS): If an object’s line of symmetry is parallel to the horizon line, it has a horizontal line of symmetry.
Combining Vertical Symmetry with People
Image 4.5 shows how I applied this symmetry skill on the job. I zoomed my lens enough to isolate just this vertically symmetrical portion of the interior. The only object that is taking away from my perfect vertical symmetry is the light fixture hanging from the ceiling. Notice it was hung a bit to the left. Although the light fixture is not centered, the rest of the scene is very much symmetrical. I positioned the bride in the center to add to the symmetry. Unfortunately, it also looks a bit posed.
Image 4.6 is almost identical to 4.5. However, I changed the overall feel of the photograph by keeping the symmetry in the composition but introducing a bit of tension. The bride being off-center creates the tension. Now the photo takes on a photojournalistic feel combined with a symmetrical composition.