Show Menu

Principles of Design in Photography Cheat Sheet by

Major principles for taking great pictures
photography     principles


The principles of design take the Elements of Art and organize them in a single piece of art. While these apply to any media in art, here we will be using them specif­ically for photog­raphy.
Credits: Trent Sizemore
site has picture examples of the princi­ples.

1. Balance

Balance is arranging the elements in a piece so that there is an equality from one side to the other. A symmet­rical image has perfect balance. Balance can also be achieved by asymmetry or radial arrang­ement. Below are an example of both poor and good balance.

2. Harmony

The dictionary definition of harmony is “a consis­tent, orderly, or pleasing arrang­ement of parts;­con­gru­ity”. This happens in art by using similar elements through out a piece that bring it together in a “pleasing” way. Harmony can be considered simpli­city.

3. Patter­n/R­hythm

Pattern or rhythm is simply repeating an element in such a manner. This will cause the viewer’s eye to move around to each element.

4. Unity

Unity is taking the parts of a piece of art and unifying them in to something better as a whole. Compos­ition is a great way to do this. This image could be separated in to each part as its own piece, but together they become a unified compos­ition.

5. Contrast

Contrast is easy. It is similar to adding contrast to an image overall, but this is done by using the elements. You can create contrast in an image by using comple­mentary colors or differ­ences in light and dark.

6. Proportion

Proportion is using the size of an object to give it more or less import­ance. Finding an image that uses this purpos­efully was difficult. In this image, the size of the sky was dramat­ically greater than the ground, giving it import­ance.

7. Variety

Variety is exactly what it sounds like, having variety in your elements! The image on the left has variety by combining a sunset sky, the bridge, and the middle ground of the trees. The image on the right has variety in each of the shells. By differing the kinds of shells, I’ve created variety that still maintains unity in that they are all shells.

8. Movement

Movement is one of the simpler principles to learn. The goal of creating movement is to lead the viewer’s eye all around the photo and land on the focal point

Download the Principles of Design in Photography Cheat Sheet

1 Page

PDF (recommended)

Alternative Downloads

Share This Cheat Sheet!



No comments yet. Add yours below!

Add a Comment

Your Comment

Please enter your name.

    Please enter your email address

      Please enter your Comment.

          Related Cheat Sheets

          More Cheat Sheets by Davidpol

          CMS F-Tags and Regulatory Groups Cheat Sheet