Finding Your Voice: Day 8. Shapes & Patterns.

Oh boy! It’s Day 8 in: “Finding Your Voice… 10 Days, 10 Concepts To Help You Find Your Photographic Voice.” 

Today, we’re going to wrap ourselves around…

Shapes and Patterns

A world without shapes or patterns is pretty much a blob. Ditto bones. 😉

Shapes and patterns are definitely important elements to watch for – and potentially build compositions around. But when it comes to your artist’s voice, you have to take it deeper. What shapes and patterns do you just go nuts over? Any and all? Organic ones? Geometric ones? Shapes and patterns in nature? Architecture? All of the above?

After you work that out – then the even bigger question to ask is why? How do those particular patterns make you feel? What kind of story/statement does that shape make? These answers are important to know, because they’ll tell you how to compose your shot, whether to wait for warm light, pink light or low light. Is the statement stronger in black and white? To know the answer,  you have to know what the statement IS in the first place. And that is all about you and your point of view…  your voice.

My favorite shape or pattern is ________.

Personally, I have alot of favorites. You probably do too. And y’know, with all of the fill-in-the-blank statements throughout this series, I’m not suggesting that you should only have one favorite anything. That would be cruel! But the thing is, you have to hone your focus (so to speak) if you’re going to find your voice.

If you anything like me, you’re a walking world of preferences. You may like tea, not coffee. Love blue, hate chartreuse. Caviar makes you gag. The fragrance of peony flowers makes you weak in the knewws. You love sunsets because you’d rather die than get up early. You get the drift. So I KNOW that there are certain patterns that make your eyes cross and others that you could stare at for hours. There are shapes that make you purr and others that remind you of your mean Granny Gertrude.

NOTE: Long about now, you might find that certain preferences just wanna be together. Color and patterns are often like that. The execution of your vision can even more over-the-top awesome if you choose your absolute favorite versions of both.

Examples from my world

I love a good tear drop shape. It feels elegant to me, like a graceful gesture or movement of a dancer. Put some of them in a well-defined group, add one of my color favorites; a brilliant, warm glow and I’m in heaven.

It doesn’t hurt that I also love negative space, plus the lines of the branches weave the whole thing together like a jewel necklace. LOVE! New York City.

Drops of Gold

The shapes of pine needles make me happy. They’re so clean and clear. They make a definitive statement. And they’re even super interesting up close.

The added roundness of drops of water made it an ideal contrast of shapes in my eyes. I moved around when I took this shot in order to get these particular colors into the background too. Because of all the available options, these warm tones against the green felt the best to me.  The reflection in the drop was a bonus prize… the element of the unexpected.

You see, the more of your own favorites you can have in the mix (assuming a good composition, mind you)… the more YOU the image is going to be. Truckee, CA.

On The Verge

I giggled when I took this shot in Paris of these mannequins with their fancy hats and floofy outfits. It looked like the two in the back were sniggering and whispering behind the front one’s back. This photo applies one of my favorite things to do: make a story that brings inanimate objects to life. It probably amuses no one else… but it totally entertains me.

As for shapes… it was the contrast of the hats against the straight lines of the bodies that worked for me. Loved the colors too… and purposely used a shallow depth of field to make the front one seem even more shunned, because I could literally see the movie scene play out in my mind and this was a frame from it. Probably Woody Allen or a French “Mean Girls”. Heh. Paris, France.

When it comes to shapes and patterns, this one was all about straight lines, leading lines and the contrast of curves. That’s why I made it black and white… because doing so took away the distraction of color.

Paris, France.

Even in sweeping landscapes, shapes and patterns make for a stronger image, better statement. I loved the way all the patterns interplayed… and the massive shapes of the buttes grounded the whole thing. Of course, the amazing sunrise light gave it that golden glow I so love… and the sky/clouds provided a perfect blue-gray complementary color counterpart.

There was alot to see as I was standing here in Monument Valley, AZ… but this composition was one that beautifully encompassed some of the shapes, patterns, light, colors and elements I love the most.

NOTE: there were LOADS of shots I didn’t take that day, not because they wouldn’t have been lovely photos… but because I didn’t love it enough to bother.

Morning In The Desert

Here, I loved the shapes of the trees – and the fanciful patterns of the snow. Plus, there was a  nice contrast of curves-against-straight-lines that I liked. Not to mention the snow and forest… two of my faves!

Behind The Curtain

OK enough of my stuff… lets widen the net, really get your imagination going. I did some Google image searches – and here are some for you to explore. You can click on each image to see its search.

geometric shapes in nature

geometric shapes in architecture:

Architecture - Geometric

organic shapes in architecture

architecture - organice shapes

patterns in nature flowers

patterns in nature

patterns in nature

By now, you see that we’ve been breaking things down into individual components: time of day, light, texture, element, color, movement and now shapes & patterns. In truth, you’re likely to choose a composition based upon a combination of them.

But here’s the trick:  make each choice count. There should be nothing extraneous or gratuitous in a beautiful work of art. Each choice, each inclusion, each and every element present should be there ON PURPOSE, based upon what you love most.

Choose what you love FIRST, always!


Miss a day? No worries… they’re all right here:

Finding Your Voice, Part 1: My favorite way to feel.
Finding Your Voice, Part 2: My favorite time of day.
Finding Your Voice, Part 3: My favorite light.
Finding Your Voice, Part 4: My favorite texture.
Finding Your Voice, Part 5: My favorite element.
Finding Your Voice, Part 6: My favorite color.
Finding Your Voice, Part 7: My favorite movement.
Finding Your Voice, Part 8: My favorite shapes & patterns.
Finding Your Voice, Part 9: My favorite view.
Finding Your Voice, Part 10: My story.