Department of Creative Arts
St. Pius X High School

Ms. D. Gravelle

S1 - Composition




The Elements of Design

The 7 most important elements of design in Photography are:

Each of these elements help you to design your photograph such a way that it emphasizes one or the other important aspect in composition. They bring an order in to a photograph.




Line is the most important element of all and also the most strongest in its meaning. Your eyes follow the line whether it is visible or invisible. Based on its character and direction, lines communicate emotions making it one of the strongest elements of design.

Horizontal lines suggest feeling of restfulness or calmness, vertical lines suggest feeling of power, and diagonal lines suggest feeling of movement and direction. Soft curved lines represents relaxing or soothing feel whereas acute or jagged lines suggest frenzy or chaotic feeling and so on.

Horizontal High

Horizontal Middle

Horizontal Low

Leading Lines


Shape is a two dimensional representation of an object. Kids draw primarily using the shapes like an outline of a farm house, a tree, sun, etc. The outer line of an object forms the shape.

In photography, you can represent interesting shapes of the objects by using silhouette effect due to backlighting. Silhouette photographs make an impact when the shape of the subject (object) is clearly defined in contrast with the background.

Form refers to when shape takes on three dimensions. Form is created by shadows and highlights on an object in the photograph.

Texture represents the details that are present on the surface of an object. You can use texture to create photographs that are visually interesting.

The bigger your f-number, the more details your camera will capture. The smaller your f-number, the more blur you will see in your images.
Photos of different textures are usually very detailed and sharp, which means your aperture should be at least f/6.0.

Patterns are repetition of Shapes or Textures that are organized in a rhythmic way.

Colour is a major design element that we love. Colours play an important role to set the mood of the photograph.

The colours can be broadly classified as warm colors and cool colors. Red, Orange, and Yellow are the warm colors that suggest the feeling of warmth, liveliness, and energetic whereas Blue and Green are cool colours that suggest the feeling of calmness, tranquility, and sad/gloomy.


Space is another important element of design that suggests the distance between the objects, perspective, and proportions of objects.

A subject represents the positive space in an image and the background represents the negative space. Negative space is as important as the positive space in defining the shape of the subject.

Space makes a subject feel comfortable in the image if composed using the rule of thirds.


Other Things to Consider


Natural Framing


S1.A1 - Research

Read the article on the "Rule of Thirds". Summarize the Rule of Thirds. Include at least 3 photos that help demonstrate the points in your summary.

S1.A2- Photograph

Shoot photos that demonstates each of the 7 main elements of design and the 2 additional elements (angle and framing). You may wish to shoot more than one image but you may only choose one to post. You may not edit your photos.

Post the photos in a Elements of Design subpage(s)

S1.A3 - Artistic Statement /Reflection

For each photograph answer the questions

What element does this photograph investigate?
What is the subject matter of the photograph?
How does this subject matter reflect the specific element of design?
What aspect of the photograph do you think is most successful?
What part of your photograph do you think is most visually striking?
How would you improve on this photograph if you could shoot it again?