What is geometric photography?
Geometric photography focuses on the geometric lines, shapes, and patterns that exist in the world. While geometric images are often found in architectural photography, the subject matter can be anything from vast cityscapes to patterns in nature. The only qualifier is that the photographer uses the beauty of geometry to make the image look interesting.
For many geometric photographers, the satisfaction lies in showing the world in a neat and organized way. “I like to make my photos the way I wish life was. I wish life had nice right angles and was divided into quadrants that you could easily crop into a space,” says New York City photographer Nikolaos George.
Observation is key when it comes to finding organization in the chaos. “It’s a practice of being aware of your surroundings,” says photographer Rob Chambliss, who often finds inspiration during his San Francisco Bay Area commute. “Graphic design is my profession. So this photography style fits into the way my brain works. It’s all about clicking things into place and having things line up in a certain way.”
Geometric shapes await around every corner.
The best way to get started with geometric photography is to look for geometric patterns, like repeated shapes or parallel lines, as you go about your daily routine. “The number one thing is to be aware. It’s almost a meditative practice,” says Chambliss. “I find myself paying attention to things that most people aren’t looking at and finding something new and interesting in the things I see every day.”
Find the light.
Light and weather can both play a big role when you photograph geometrical shapes outdoors. A lot of interesting geometric effects can come from shadows, which vary dramatically throughout the day. Try looking at a certain structure with the sun shining on it early in the morning or just before sunset, instead of in the middle of the day. You’ll get softer light and different colors in the morning and closer to dusk, as opposed to the harsh, sharp shadows at midday — explore both options and see what outcomes you can shoot.
Take a walk.
It can help to stroll around your neighborhood and look for interesting lines and shapes where you might normally miss them. “My first suggestion would be to look up,” says George. “It’s easy to get into a routine and just go from point A to point B.” Slow down, look at things from new angles, and then break that routine.
“Another tip is to not have a set idea of what kind of photo you’re going to take or what the subject is going to be,” says George. “If anything, I look more for good weather than for a good subject.”
Balance it out.
No matter what kind of photos you want to take, follow the path of any professional photographer and work to perfect your photo composition. This is even more important in geometric photography. As you shoot and edit, think about how to balance the elements of your image.
Don’t overwhelm your viewer with too many colors or objects in your photo. Most geometric photos verge on minimalism and feature a limited amount of color and shapes, so the patterns can shine through. “To me, the negative space is what makes an image really interesting,” says Chambliss.
“Remember the eye goes toward the lightest part of the photo,” says George. “I try to keep that in mind when I’m lining up my composition. You don’t want attention drawn to the wrong end of the photo.”
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