Tips & Tutorials

[Part 2] Professionals Composition Techniques – “Pattern & Rhythm” & “S-Curve”

In this article, I will introduce some effective basic composition techniques that are employed by professional photographers. With the help of the given examples, you should be able to understand more about the "pattern and rhythm" and "S-curve" composition and try them out yourself. (Reported by: Tatsuya Tanaka)

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Orderly-arranged subjects form the rhythm for beautiful compositions

Pattern & Rhythm

You can add rhythm to your photograph by incorporating repeated photographic elements into your shot. Some examples include the patterns of stone pavements and brick walls. A forest of white birch trees and a field of artificially grown flowers are also good photo opportunities. If you look around you, you wil find patterns in lines, shapes and even colours. Pay attention to these unity and structure when you are composing the shot. This technique is relatively straightforward once you get the hang of it.

Rhythm of photos changes with the layout

Random placement

In the image above, straws were randomly placed in the field. However, there is still some kind of regularity giving rhythm to the photo.

Even placement

In this example, the same set of straws were arranged in an orderly manner, giving the photographer a totally different impression and the overall photo, a different kind of rhythm.

How to add pattern to your photos

In the image samples below, note the position of the birds, arrangement of the bricks and the pattern on the stone pavement.

These are some examples of patterns that you may find in a picture composition. If you are able to identify these elements before taking a shot, you will be able to create beautiful patterns in your photos.

Another dynamic composition tool, adding depth and perspective to your photos

S-Curve Composition

In an S-curve composition, you can find elements that resemble the alphabet "S." For example, meandering rivers and winding mountain roads make ideal subjects for this composition. Objects such as cars and trees can also be added as an accent. These curved lines add a sense of movement to an otherwise static image, and can bring depth and perspective in some cases as well. This technique can also be applied to subjects that are not S-shaped. For example, Ivy growing on trees may also be suitable as the way it curves around the tree may resembles the letter "S". Besides natural landscapes, the S-curve composition can also be applied to photographing accessories and other small items. If you do not have any item that is shaped like "S," simply arrange them into one. This is an effective technique for photographing small items, which often turn out monotonous.


While the S-curve composition alone is capable of bringing out depth and perspective, you can achieve an even better effect by combining it with the diagonal or split composition.

Ideal for bringing out a winding road or the flow of a river

The sample images above are representatives of the S-curve composition. In the first sample image on the left, the curve appears too gentle. In the second sample image on the right, I raised the shooting position and chose an angle to bring out the S shape of the path, giving the image depth.

The sample image of the left gives the impression that water is flowing down into two streams, making the overall composition sloppy. The sample image on the right shows a better example of how the S curve composition is applied in this image.

Applicable to scenes other than landscapes

Small items are arranged on a tabletop in the "X" photo according to their size. However, the composition lacks structure, and gives a sloppy impression. The items are rearranged slightly in a S shape, creating rhythm to the final picture.

Tatsuya Tanaka

Born in 1956, Tanaka is one of the rare photographers who produce works across a wide variety of genres from an original perspective. These genres range from objects in our daily lives, such as insects and flowers, to landscapes, skyscapes, and celestial bodies. Besides photography, Tanaka has also developed his own approach in post processes including retouch and printing.


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