Formal Elements Of Photography

There are several formal elements of photography.


Lines are used all the time in photos as they help create shape, form and texture. This being said lines can be classed as the most important and influential elements of formal photography.

For instance, multiple lines can help show rhythm whereas horizontal lines can emphasise peaceful tones.


Shapes show the dimensions in a photograph. Shapes can suggest size and weight. Some shapes (rectangles, triangle, etc) can show stability and others (ovals) can help make illusions. Sharp, straight lines can make a photo more dramatic whereas soft, curved edges can make a photo less serious and more welcoming. Silhouettes are the purist type.


Form is a three-dimensional element of photography and it creates depth, height and width. Form creates atmosphere by the shadows and angles, this means that form is literally shape but with highlights and shadows, thus making it three-dimensional .


Texture causes more emotion to be seen in a photograph as it causes depth. If the texture is emphasised with light and angles and this can make an image more interesting. The texture causes the viewers to see the feelings and emotions in the photograph.


This helps show size and it can create two photographs. If a pattern is broken (a chain link fence that has a hole in it for example) then it can create a dramatic effect and change the emotions and feelings of the photograph. A smooth pattern that isn’t broken can be more relaxing  and peaceful.


Shows emotion by the usage of warm and cool colours. Warm colours are reds, oranges and yellows whereas cool colours are blues and greens. Cool colours can suggest loneliness and sadness but can make the viewer feel calmer and relaxed. The warm colours can be more inviting and friendly even though some warm colours (red) can suggest anger or passion.  Cool colours can also make space seem bigger and more open than it is.


Space can make a photo feel welcoming or even isolated. The space around an object can make it so the object is the main focus and it can make the object seem sharper and more dynamic. Space creates motion and activity which creates the composition. Negative space (space around an object) brings balance to an object and will make boundaries. A photographer makes boundaries  using the rule of thirds.


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