What Is Shape and Form in Photography?

Shape and form are two concepts that are often used interchangeably, but they actually refer to two different things. In this post, we’ll explore what each of these terms mean and how you can use them to create better photographs.

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What is shape?

In its simplest terms, shape is a two-dimensional area that is defined by boundaries. It can be either geometric or organic. Organic shapes are found in nature, while geometric shapes are man-made. Most photography composition deal with finding interesting ways to combine or juxtapose organic and geometric shapes.

What is form?

Form is an element of composition that can be thought of as the shape of an object within the frame. In a three-dimensional world, form is the actual shape of an object, such as a pyramid or sphere. In two-dimensional artwork, such as photography, painting, or printmaking, form takes on a different meaning. Here, form refers to the appearance of an object as defined by its outline. While a three-dimensional object has volume, a two-dimensional object only has height and width.

How do shape and form affect photography?

Form and shape in photography can be used to create visual interest, contrast, and help direct a viewer’s eye. In this lesson, we’ll explore how these elements are used in images.

When we talk about form and shape in photography, we’re referring to the ways that objects are represented in an image. Form is the overall structure of an object, while shape is the object’s outline. These two elements work together to create the visual appearance of an object.

photographers can use form and shape to create visual interest, contrast, and help direct a viewer’s eye. Let’s take a look at some examples of how these elements are used in images.

Tips for using shape and form in photography

Most photographs contain some combination of shape and form. Shape is usually defined by lines, either real or implied, that enclose or define an area. Form, on the other hand, is three-dimensional. It has height, width, and depth. When photographing objects, we are often more aware of form than shape. But both shape and form can be used to create strong compositions.

One way to think of shape is as the outline of an object. Most objects have a distinct outline, or shape, that makes them recognizable. When we see an object, our brain immediately identifies it by its shape. For example, we see a circle and instantly know it’s a wheel; we see a rectangle and know it’s a door; we see a triangle and know it’s a pyramid.

In photography, shapes can be used to simplify complex subjects, to emphasize lines and patterns, or to create graphic images with strong visual impact. Because our brain is wired to recognize shapes, they can be used to lead the eye through an image or to focus attention on a particular area.

Lines are perhaps the most basic element of composition and can be used in many different ways to createshape in an image. Vertical lines convey a sense of stability; horizontal lines convey a sense of calm; diagonal lines add energy and movement; curved lines are soft and sensual. Lines can be used singly or in combination to create all sorts of shapes in an image — from simple geometric shapes like circles and squares to more complex organic shapes like trees and clouds.

Similarly, form can be used to simplify complex subjects or emphasize three-dimensional volumes and structures. When photographing people or animals, for example, paying attention to form can help you create stronger portraits that show your subject’s physical presence more clearly. When shooting landscapes or cityscapes, noticing the forms created by buildings and other structures can help you create images with greater visual impact

Examples of shape and form in photography

In photography, shape and form often refer to the same thing. Shape is the external appearance of an object, while form is the three-dimensional structure of that object. Form can be thought of as the “inner” shape of an object. However, when discussing shape and form in photography, we usually refer to the two as separate concepts.

In general, shapes are flat, while forms are not. However, this is not always the case. For example, a cylinder has a flat top and bottom, but it also has a round side. In this instance, the flat surfaces are shapes, while the round surface is a form. Of course, cylinders are just one example – there are many other objects that have both shapes and forms.

When taking photographs, it’s important to think about both shape and form. The way that these elements are used can have a big impact on the overall look and feel of your image.

How to create interesting shapes in photography

In photography, shapes can be created by many things, including lines, tonal contrast, colour, light, and even movement. Photographers use these shapes to draw the viewer’s attention to a particular subject or area within the frame, and can also be used to create a sense of balance or composition within an image.

One of the easiest ways to create shapes in photography is by using lines. Lines can be created by elements such as the horizon, a road, or even the edge of a building. By positioning these lines in certain ways, photographers can create leading lines that lead the viewer’s eye into the frame, or converging lines that give the impression of depth.

Tonal contrast is another way to create shapes in an image. By using areas of light and dark tones (or colours), photographers can create shapes that stand out from their surroundings. This is often used to highlight a subject matter, such as a person’s face against a darker background.

Colour can also be used to create shapes in an image. Strong contrasting colours will often naturally draw the eye towards them, and so can be used to create leading lines or highlight a particular subject matter. However, too much contrasting colour within an image can often make it appear ‘busy’ or ‘cluttered’, so it’s important to use this technique sparingly.
Lee Frost is credited with saying: “Shape and form are more important than detail…If you miss the shape and form you have failed no matter how much detail you have put in.”

How to use form to create depth in photography

Create depth in your photography by using the element of form. Form is the three-dimensional quality of an object as it appears in space. It can be represented by its height, width, and depth. Use light and shadow to create the illusion of form, or use deep focusing to render all objects in sharp relief. Pay attention to how different forms relate to each other in the frame, and use this to create a sense of depth.

Tips for using shape and form to create contrast in photography

In composition, shape and form are used to describe the areas that an image is divided into. Contrast is created by the differences in these shapes and forms. The easy way to understand this concept is to think of an image as a bunch of geometric shapes put together. A square and a circle would be two different shapes, while a square and a rectangle would be two different forms.

When you’re shooting, look for opportunities to use shape and form to create contrast. This contrast can be used to lead the eye around the frame or to highlight a certain area. For example, you could use a circle in the foreground to contrast with the linear forms in the background. Or you could use a dark shape against a light background to make it stand out.

Remember, you don’t always need strong contrast to create interest in your compositions. Sometimes, a subtle change in shape or form can be all it takes to add that little extra something that takes your photo from good to great.

How to use shape and form to create balance in photography

In photography, shape and form can be used to create balance and interest within a composition. Shapes are defined by their outlines, whereas form refers to the three-dimensional quality of an object. By placing shapes and forms strategically within a frame, photographers can create compositions that are pleasing to the eye and convey their intended message.

Shapes are Flat
Shapes are two-dimensional, meaning they have length and width but no depth. When photographing a scene, look for ways to use shape to create interest and balance. For example, a round object in the center of a frame can be balanced by two linear objects on either side. Or, multiple round objects of different sizes can be grouped together to create a sense of rhythm.

Forms Have Depth
Forms are three-dimensional, meaning they have length, width, and depth. To photograph a form effectively, it’s important to consider how the light is hitting it. When photographing a round object, for example, using backlighting will create an interesting halo effect. Placing a light source behind your subject will also cause shadows to fall across its surface, which can add depth and dimensionality.

How to use shape and form to create movement in photography

In general, shape is defined by an outlined area within a two-dimensional space, while form refers to a three-dimensional object. However, shape and form can also be used to create a sense of movement in photography. By playing with the positioning of shapes and forms within the frame, you can guide the viewer’s eye around the image and create a sense of dynamics.

Here are a few examples of how shape and form can be used to create movement in photography:

1. Look for ways to juxtapose different shapes and forms against each other. Think about how they interact with each other and whether there is a sense of tension or flow between them.

2. Use leading lines to direct the viewer’s gaze around the frame. Leading lines can be created by shapes, forms, or even colors.

3. Position your subject off-center to create a sense of movement within the frame. This is especially effective if there is already a strong sense of movement in the scene itself.

4. Make use of negative space to emphasise certain elements within the frame. By leaving plenty of empty space around your subject, you can create a feeling of isolation or calmness.

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