Using Graphic Elements in Composition

Visual artists of all kinds—such as painters, illustrators, and sculptors—use graphic elements such as shapes, lines, and points in their work. Photography is no exception. Through the use of shapes, points, motion, and other elements, photographers can add meaning to a work and make it resonate with the viewer. In this week’s Assignment, you will take a photograph and apply graphic elements to that photograph.

To prepare for this Assignment:

  • Review Chapter 4 in the course text, The Photographer’s Eye.
  • Choose a subject of interest on which to base the composition of your photograph.
  • Choose three graphic elements from the chapter reading this week to apply in the composition of your photograph.
  • Compose and take a photograph that uses your chosen graphic elements to create a story or highlight a theme.

The Assignment:

    • Create a 2-slide PowerPoint presentation that includes the following:

      Slide 1:

      • In one photograph, apply three graphic elements to create a story or highlight a theme for your composition.
      • Include a brief description of your photograph (title and subject).

      Slide 2:

      • Write a 3- to 4-paragraph description of the graphic elements of your photograph and the story or theme you are expressing. Include answers to the following:
        • Analyze how effective you were at achieving your photographic goal.
        • What might you do differently next time?
    • Be sure to cite at least one example from the course readings to support your writing.
    • Freeman, M. (2013). The photographer’s eye: Graphic guide: Instantly understand composition & design for better digital photos. Burlington, MA: Focal Press.
      • Chapter 4, “Graphics” (pp. 62–79)

        This chapter focuses on the use of lines, curves, and shapes in the composition of photographs.

    • Tallis, T. (2006). Critiquing photographs. Retrieved from

      This article explains how to critique photography and why this can and should be a positive, helpful exercise.

The following websites comprise galleries that allow you to experience the fundamental elements of photographic art.

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