Composition: Shape

“There is a furnace in our cells, and when we breathe we pass the world through our bodies, brew it lightly, and turn it loose again, gently altered for having known us.”
-Diane Ackerman, “The Mute Sense”



I was peeling a rather thick-skinned orange for lunch this last week and I noticed that when I teased the stringy fibers of orange apart, the twin slices looked just like a pair of tiny lungs. Small, with thin highways of bronchioles traveling web-like from the fleshy center.

I had never thought about shape as a compositional element, but this photo plays exclusively on the dips and curves of the orange slices. So shape, I realized, is just another tool to use to make an intriguing photo.

This photo takes a lot of its intrigue from the contrast between the soft curves of the oranges and the boxy background of the keyboard. The square aspect ratio also adds to the contrast and forces the focus onto the orange. Plus, they look like lungs (but at a slight angle) which is awesome.

Photos that focus a lot on shape do best if they’re very subject-centered images or have a great depth of background. Since it’s fall, I think leaves would be a fun way to start playing with shape in your photos.

Happy shaping!



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