3 top tips for using repetition & pattern

Published June 26, 2018, 12:05 AM


By Neil Garcia


Because repetition and pattern can turn out to be double-­edged swords, use them carefully in your compositions to avoid dull and predictable photographs.

Find the best orientation & perspective.

Whenever possible, find a good perspective  that  will  make  the  repetition  or  pattern  stand  out.  Especially  with  three-­dimensional  subjects,  a  little  step  to  the  left,  or  to  the  right  can  make  a  difference  on  the  elements’  arrangement  in  your  photograph.2

Be  observant  of  how  light,  shade,  and  shadows  play  their  part  in  a  composition.  There  are  instances  when  these  elements  also  exhibit  repetition,  in  which  case,  all  you  to  capture  the  repeated  elements.  Also,  remember  to  shoot  both  vertical  and  horizontal,  because  a  slight  change  in  orientation  may  strengthen  or  weaken  the  repetition  in  your  composition.

Decide how much repetition to include.

When executed carefully, repetition can catch your viewer’s interest and give form to your photograph. However, repetition can result to dullness when done haphazardly. To avoid this, one of things you have to decide on is how much repetition you want to show in your photograph.

Do you wish to include repetitive elements just enough to establish their similarities? Or do you want to emphasize the repeated elements enough to create an overwhelming, almost humorous feel in your photograph? Do you want everything in focus? Or would you rather capture one subject tack-­sharp and the others blurry, with just their shapes subtly revealing the similarities? Ultimately, a lot will depend on your purpose for using repetition in your composition.

Break the monotony.

A musical piece with an easy, repetitive beat is easy to remember and to appreciate. However, it’s always the climax that we look forward to when we sing our lungs out for our favorite songs. The same is true when repetition is used in a photograph—you can create a kick-­ass climax by breaking the monotony through including a surprising element in your photo.

To do this, consider using repetition to let your viewer’s eye move from point to point in your photograph, while inevitably leading them to the central point of interest in composition. Aside from giving your photograph that added punch, breaking the monotony also helps make similarities and differences stand out.