Repetition in Art

Repetition in art can be a very powerful technique to draw the viewer into your work. Andy Warhol is one of the first artists that comes to mind when it comes to repetition. Have a look at his Marilyns or Campbell’s Soup cans.

Abstract Minimal Photography
Repetitive Lines, New York City, January 2019

You can search for repeating patterns in the outside world and you may come across many such opportunities as shadows (as shown in the photo above) or other objects. It’s especially good for minimalistic and abstract compositions.

Color Abstract Photography
Repetition in the Rain, New York City, May 2020

You can also create repetition on computer using Photoshop or a number of other computer or phone apps, as shown here both above and below.

Color Abstract Photography
Repetition in the Rain 2, New York City, May 2020

In spoken or written words, repetition can be a tool to place more meaning on what’s being said. To place an emphasis on it. The same can also be true in the visual realm.

Repetition can also create a sense of movement and rhythm. A composition that utilizes repetition will frequently use color or shapes as a dominate element.

And repetition in repeating the same process over and over again can create boredom. That is why I am forever looking at new methods to create works. Try repetition, you might like it.

Street Photography Tips – The Rule of Odds

What can I tell you about the “rules” of composition? They are interesting. They are often applied and rarely mastered. The masters of photography like Cartier-Bresson practically invented them. One has to wonder if they knew that when they were doing it? Or did it later become a so-called rule?

Many of the masters of photography, yes they were mostly men, started out in painting. They had already studied composition. Alas, it was introduced into photography. 

The rule of thirds has been done to death. It certainly has its moments and I admit, I often use the rule of thirds. Sometimes with good results. It’s like grammar. Learning how to communicate visually. Poetry however pushes the basics to a new level. 

Henri Cartier-Bresson - rule of odds
Henri Cartier-Bresson, Rome, 1959

The rule of odds is yet another of the composition guidelines. It is a bit looser in some ways. It can apply to a disjunction of sorts. Like a very large man with a very small dog. The photo above by Cartier-Bresson is a classic example of the rule of odds. The photo below is mine and also an example of the rule of odds. There is one odd person in each photo.

The Rule of Odds
Every Which Way, New York City, June 2015

For many street photographers, the rule of odds is about numbers. It would seem that even numbers are not favored. Odd numbers create tension and the number three is a particularly good one. And three can form a triangle indicating movement as well. 

When the rule of odds works it can work very well. But circumstances don’t always allow it. It’s not like you can get people into place or even that you’re thinking where are my three people? So I would say that it’s more often used as a method of justifying why a photo works or doesn’t after the fact. It’s a bit of a crap shoot.

That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t hope that you’ll be alert enough to capture it when you see it. Just don’t get hung up on trying to obtain that. Maybe you find the even numbers are easier to capture and you’re getting shots that you’re happy with. The art of photography is always an ongoing process. My evolution is ongoing as is my sense for what makes good composition. Happy shooting and composing!

Street Photography Tips – Framing

Of the many things that you can do in street photography or photography in general, framing is one method of having a photo stand out. It is one of my favorite composition styles. Framing can add a different perspective to what might not be an interesting photo otherwise.

Monochrome Street Photography
On Lafayette Street, New York City, 9 April 2017

There are many possibilities of ways that you can use framing. This photo was of course taken through a car window. Windows and doors work well. But the possibilities are numerous. Next time that you’re out shooting, have a look around you to see what things you can use to provide a frame for your photo. It’s fun!

Street Photography Tips – Slow Photography part 1

I know that I’ve written about slow photography in the past, but I think it’s a good thing to mention it again. In this digital world with the mass proliferation of images the idea of slowing down has a real appeal. It’s possible that my age has an influence on this. Either way, I find that you get an equal amount of good photos by going slow. Possibly more.

Color Street Photography
Young and Hip in the City 6, New York City, March 2018

The photos that are included here are an example of slow photography. That is to say that I found a spot that I liked and waited for a person to enter the shot. It’s funny how easy it is in New York City to feel compelled to move fast. It takes a little effort to stop and observe. The same is true with digital photography in general and more specifically in street photography. So the idea that you need to be hungry or that you need to chase the shot just isn’t true in my opinion.

Color Street Photography
Greening in Soho, New York City, August 2018

I recently got my Ricohflex back from repair and I finished my first roll of film with it in awhile. It’s a medium format camera with a waist level viewfinder. I am forced to shoot slowly with it and I realize how easy it is to press the shutter on a digital camera. I’m not saying that one is better or worse. Only that it changes the way that I see. If you haven’t tried slow photography I do suggest it.