Repetition of a single design element, whether it be a shape, line, colour, tone or texture is a useful composition tool in fine art and photography. This single element repetition can be used alone or in combination with other elements to create patterns, and the patterns can in turn be manipulated to create rhythm.
If cleverly used, rhythm can impart a kind of beat and a sense of movement to the artwork or photograph, just as it does in music.
There are essentially five different types of rhythm that can be achieved through repetitions
Random Rhythm in which elements are repeated or scattered throughout the picture with no apparent pattern but entice the eye of the viewer to move around the image. (Musically, think of “Ragtime” as a comparison).
In Regular Rhythm the elements are repeated at consistently regular intervals throughout the picture, presenting a peaceful, serene atmosphere (Think Brahms’ “Wiegenlied”), but stands the risk of being monotonous. One trick is to break the pattern by introducing a single opposite element to disrupt the mood and create disharmony or imbalance. (Think cat landing on piano keyboard).
Alternating Rhythm uses two or three patterns, adding more variety than the regular rhythm. (Think Streisand and Diamond in “You Don’t bring me Flowers Anymore”.)
Undulating or Flowing Rhythm a calming effect and is made up of smooth elements that rise and fall or bend and weave like billowing clouds or rolling hills that move the eye slowly and smoothly around the image. (Think “Slow Waltz”.)
Progressive Rhythm in which elements change gradually in size or in tone as they are repeated over and over, like trees along a path receding into the distance, growing smaller and softer as they approach the horizon. (Think Diminuendo and crescendo in music.) Another use of this type of rhythm is to direct the attention of the viewer to a particular subject, in the same way as a frame or a vignette.
The common factor in all of these rhythm types is repetition which, if used correctly, is able to enrich any photographic subject.
As Tedric Garrison writes in “Repetition and Patterns in Photography” (www.picturecorrect.com):
“Like music, you are not expected to just listen to a single note, but to take in the high notes, low notes, the movements, and the beat…..when repetition is used correctly, it can greatly increase the emotional impact of your images.”
Here is a selection of photographs by 1x.com photographers that illustrates the power of repetition.
See if you can spot the rhythms.
'Rhythm' by Richard Liu
'posing' by HAN dong hee
'Incensing work' by Azim Khan Ronnie
'Walter' by Umut Çirkin
'Monomania' by Raffaele Corte
n/t by saman pour khoshamouz
'Rhythms of Childhood' by Prithwiraj Gain
'Rhythm of paddy field b' by Shenshen Dou
'Mung Sliramu' by bonifasius whayu adi f
'Pasar Terapung' by Insan Kamil
'Fisher Women Catching Fishes' by Saurabh Sirohiya
'overlook' by toon maartense
n/t by Beata Bogdańska
'Beata's going swimming' by mumbler
'Into the Groove' by Michele Berlingeri
n/t by Leyla Emektar La_
'Moscow metro – crystal' by Maxim Makunin
'Akram Khan' by Sebastien DEL GROSSO
'Repeat' by Henk van Maastricht
'Upper West III' by Peter Pfeiffer
'Shoes maker' by Mahmoud Fayed
'closing time' by holger droste
'shutters' by Renata Lacina
Subhash Sapru PRO
What an interesting write-up and appropriate examples of images. The element of repetition has rythem and that keeps the viewer engrossed.
Thank you Laurens and Yvette for this interesting and enlightening article about repetition in photography. And thank you to all the wonderful artists showed here. I enjoyed the reading a lot! Gabrielle
Shobhit Chawla PRO
Gives us a background and understanding to better use this tool , thanks for giving directions to our use of repetition as a rhythm. Excellent images and an engaging article . Thank you editors
Thank you Lourens for the excellent choice of images. And thanks also to the expert authors of the works for their exquisite artistic talent. Thanks of course to dear Yvette for editing and publishing this new splendid article. Have a good weekend everyone. Francesco
Jan Rauwerdink PRO
Another magnificent article! I want to thank Yvette and the editorial team for their continuous engagement and their superb work.
Great article, interesting, scholarly. The heart melts and the mind goes crazy over the quality of the pictures and works in the article. Your choices to display these amazing images are where 1x proves to me how important it is to post images on your site. Accept my appreciation Lawrence. Thank you so much to all the photo photographers for an excellent photography job. And to Yvette for editing and publishing this great article. Swid.
This makes my heart sing, a very nice article and collection of work, thank you!
Miro Susta CREW
Very interesting and educative article, wonderful selection of lovely images, accept my appreciation Lourens, also many thanks to all photo authors for superb photo work and Yvette for editing and publishing it.
Raffaele Corte PRO
Onoratissimo di fare parte di questa bella selezione di immagini che arricchisce un articolo altrettanto bello e interessante Grazie!
Shenshen Dou PRO
This is a knowledgeable, interesting article demonstrated with beautiful 1x Rhymes, I am honored to be a small note in this musical! Thanks Lourens and Yvette for your hard work!
Que artículo mas interesante y didáctico!! Excelente selección de imágenes!! Felicidades!!
Inci Koyuncu PRO
harika bir makale ve çok güzel bir seçki... teşekkürler, emeklerinize sağlık. :)
Yes, an very interesting article. Thank you very much Lourens and Yvette for all your work and commitment. I am very proud to be part of this article with one of my photos. Thank you for choosing it, Lourens.
Very interesting article about repetition in photography. I got new ideas. Thank you. Congratulations to all authors of excellent images.
Yvette Depaepe CREW
Fine article about repetitions in photography and great choice of images, Lourens. Thanks a lot and congratulations to all authors.