Photography Element of Composition: Symmetry

Our psyche is soothed by symmetry because it appeals to our innate desire for balance, order, and structure. Incorporating symmetry into your photography is a great way to create pleasing, calming, and harmonious images.

What is Symmetry?

Symmetry in photography refers to images that, when divided by a horizontal or a vertical line are identical on both sides of the line.

Note that identical is loosely defined — for example, the image below has symmetry even though the reflection is not identical in every way to the tree on the little clump of earth.


Horizontal symmetry is very popular in landscape photography, especially when there are bodies of water for reflecting the landscape.

Note that the lines of symmetry don’t need to divide the image in half. The image below has horizontal symmetry too, even though the line of symmetry is on the lower rule of thirds line rather than in the middle of the image.

horizontal symmetry

Vertical symmetry is when an image is the same on both sides of a vertical line. It’s very popular in architecture. The image below is an example of vertical symmetry.

Faces also have vertical symmetry.

Some images have both horizontal and vertical symmetry, like this image below.

This image has both vertical and horizontal symmetry, but also symmetry around a central axis – in this case, the yellow center of the daisy. The daisy has radial symmetry. Radial symmetry is often found in nature, like in starfish and other flowers.

#MindfulPhotoChallenge: Symmetry

The challenge today is to capture an image with symmetry. Here are some ways to do that:

  1. Look for a symmetrical subject and fill the frame with it.
  2. Zoom in closely to a part of an image that has symmetry, like a handle on a piece of furniture.
  3. Use reflections to create symmetry.
  4. Set up a symmetrical scene or background to draw attention to your subject, like this image below. The people really pop because they are a non-symmetrical element of the image.

5. Use space and the rule of thirds to highlight a symmetrical object

Share your images on Instagram with #mindfulphotochallenge and/or #RefocusPhotoChallenge, and tag me @ goodhartphotography.

If you enjoyed this article, you might like:

  • My full color 30-Day Photography Challenge Workbook here on Amazon.
  • My Photography Articles Listed and Sorted by Type here
  • My Mindful Photography Workshop here
  • My “A Gossamer Thread” Newsletter about photography/creativity, productivity, and joy here