Shape in photography

Element of shape in photography is the simple basic outline of an object. It gives a very primitive information about the content or form of an object. If we draw a circle on a paper, it can be of a flat cutout piece of paper, or it can be a ball, or an end view of a cylinder. A triangle can be a triangular tray or a pyramid. This basic outline gives no information about the size and form. So shape alone in an image is not enough as an element to give complete information about the subject.

This shape in form of outline requires help of other elements to reveal details of the object. Form and texture renders reality and feel of an object. Perspective gives fair idea of the size of the object.

If we add some shading on the circle on the paper, we can make it look like a ball. When further detail of texture is filled, we can make it as a golf ball or a tennis ball. In photography, this shading is done with the help of light. Direction of the light will naturally cast a shadow, which will be the effect of a shading, when we compare it with a drawing. Quality of light will record the texture and one can make out whether it is a golf ball or it is a tennis ball.

In various genre of photography, shape has its own role. In food photography, it is in form of rounds and rectangles, presented in various ingredients and elements of the content. As we are familiar with the actual size of an object in food photography, we can visualize the entire content.

In most of case, shape alone will not work and need a help from other elements or objects to compare the actual size of the object. In case of a photograph of a ball. shape is clearly defined, but this basic shape is not giving any information of the size. When human element, which is a known size to our brain, is added, then we can visualize the size of a ball.

Outline by itself is not very informative shape in photography, but it can be used as a creative approach. Silhouetted image of a child gives no information about the face, yet, we can identify the subject as a child. This kind of subject will also give the information about the size as we are familiar with such figures.

This is a very basic element of a photograph and it is always playing its role to give support to other elements in a photograph. Apart from silhouetted subject, it rarely works on its own.

Return back to elements of image

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Learn more about:

Color in photography

Contrast in photography

Form in photography

Line in photography

Negative space

Pattern in photography

Perspective in photography

Positive space

Shadow in photography

Size in photography

Texture in photography

Tone in photography

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