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Form In Photography: What Is It & How To Use It

Form as a visual element, alright, let’s get started.

The elements of design are the building blocks of composition. The composition helps express an idea and helps the viewer understand your artistic expression.

The photos that are flat based are not 3D objects, however, the objects that we do capture in our photographs, with the guidance of highlights, mid-tones, and shadows, were able to create a form that differs deeply from shape. Sometimes form can be recognizable like we can identify what our eyes are capturing, but sometimes we can not identify the form, yet it looks real because it was created on a foundation of what we have seen before in our everyday life.

So just by seeing an object, you can identify its weight, and its size, but when it comes to the form, you can just assume. Our brains are constantly being stimulated, so when form becomes anonymous or mysterious, that is when we realize our capabilities of interpretation.

Two types of form

There are two kinds of forms: Organic form and geometric form. Let’s get into explaining what is geometric and what is organic form.

The geometric form is man-made, whether it is through architecture or fine art, for example, I can give up the impression of cleanliness, order, or control.

The organic form is provided to us by nature, it’s just God’s work. This kind of form is complex in structure and can give us the impression of something unpredictable or irregular, perhaps even symmetrical. Depending on how you use the form in your composition, it can pass down a lot of information, depending on how you light up your scene, which gives us the illusion of something that has depth in it.

Form vs Shape

Unlike shape, the form has depth. So we have a specific form if the shape appears in three-dimension format and sometimes even in two dimensions format.

The shape is simply defined by lines.

Another difference between form and shape is where you see them. Usually, you can see more form on flat types of art, such as paintings, drawings, and painting surfaces, whereas you can see form in 3D objects, such as metalwork, pottery, sculptures, etc.

Shapes are the simplest thing you can see out there, but that’s not the case with form. The form is much more complex, not because is 3D, but because it gives the impression of a real thing and the human hands can hold it just like the human eyes can see it.


The elements of form in a photography

Now, let’s talk about the real deal. Let’s get into some of the elements of form in photography so you can have an idea of how to navigate with them and make the best out of your capturing photos journey.


Yes, it might look just like an element of aesthetics, but that might not be the case. Colors change a lot of things in photography. They are the real deal and a key element of getting to the best form possible. There are two ways of seeing color as an element of photography, you can see color as your ally, which means you can rely on playing with colors in tour photography, and you can see color as a distraction. And by distraction I mean, you can think that color makes your photos overly colorful and busy and that’s why a considerable part prefer to turn their photos in black and white.


Need I say that without light, you might as well quit your job as a photographer. You know how we say, we humans can’t live without water, well, photography as a way of expressing art, wouldn’t exist without light, natural or artificial, you name it. Light gives you the chance to create a perfect form in your photos if you know how to use it and how to take advantage of it. Imagine portrait photography where you can’t see the person’s facial expressions! A disaster, right! Well, that’s the power of light, if known how to manage it.


When it comes to depth, it is an element of form that its primary mission is to make the photography seem more appealing and pleasing to the human eye. or even beautiful, I think that’s the proper adjective. So, depth makes sure to make the photos beautiful and make you stare at them. Again, without this element, you can’t have a completed form of your photographs. 


Yes, it might sound dull, but it is important just as the other elements. It is important as much as perspective or point of view is important in real life. Just like you shouldn’t look at life just from your point of view, you also shouldn’t look at the objects or the subjects you are capturing only from one of their angles. Experiment with different angles and each time you will get a different picture, even if it will remain the same one. 


Improve your photography skills by using the form in these ways 

  • Don’t be afraid to swim in-depth – it separates the subject from the background and that’s how you get the perfect form. 
  • Dare to walk in somebody else’s shoes – explore all the angles while capturing the photography.
  • Life might not be colorful all the time – so, dare to make it black and white and some grey in between. 


Final words

The form is an asset to your photography. An asset that contains even more elements in it, how you will use the form, and its element is completely up to you as a photographer. Just bear in mind that creativity, being open-minded, being open to flaws, and embracing them, will make you more persistent in your work and will help you become a professional at what you do. 

The form will give you the chance to compose extraordinary photos even in the dullest situation, so a little bit of practice and imagination will help you achieve what you want and be where you want to be.