Imperfect Symmetry



I remember my art teacher attempting to explain ‘The Rule of Thirds’ to me when I was about 14. When I got my first camera, I tried to follow this practice – placing the point of interest to one side of the frame… but I didn’t like any of the photographs, they just didn’t feel right. For a while I honestly believed that this rule, this Golden Section as it is known in the art world, was an actual real rule, like a law… so I decided to break it.

I take photographs of the things that catch my eye, and when I look at something I don’t look at it out of the corner of my eye – I look at it head-on, in the middle. This is also why, generally, I compose my portraits with the subject in the middle of the frame… that’s how I look at people, and more importantly, that’s how I talk to people.

I also obsess about symmetry – an affliction my 15 year-old daughter has inherited. I see symmetry everywhere – but what I like to photograph is the slightly imperfect, the not quite symmetrical.

All the images here were made with Pentax 67 and Fuji GW690III medium format cameras – which, funnily enough, are in themselves symmetrical. Film is Kodak Portra 400…. and Kodak is almost a symmetrical word.

Images developed and scanned at UK FILM LAB 







  1. I notice that symmetry in your images right from the start (of following your blog). I believe you should take photos as you see the subject. The image is your way of seeing the world (and sometimes I do the same). I think I noticed some images with the subject in the centre on David du Chemin’s blog too – which I thought was unusual as a newbie amateur photographer 5 years ago. I tend to follow blogs that ‘speak’ to me. I admire Photographers who are individualists and not afraid to ‘think outside the box’ (frame).

    Liked by 1 person

  2. J.J. Sommer

    Symmetry and centre placement of subjects can be tricky. Yours really work here, but for this viewer, it’s because I don’t think that what is placed at the centre is really the subject. In the photograph of the Friterie, I don’t really look or notice the actual friterie. What I first notice, and look at, is the dichotomy of the two opposing landscapes, the beach on the left and the urban sprawl on the right. The friterie then seems like it is more of a tool to both unite and divide these two landscapes.

    In the photograph below that, I don’t look at or even care about the object, or shelter, covered in a blue tarp. I instead see a green pastoral landscape on the left, and a young man crouched in a thicket filled with rubbish and debris, looking longingly out at the pasture.

    It’s that kind of complexity which makes these images work. It’s not really just a photo of a blue tarp or a friterie. Then again, maybe I am looking too deep and making shit up. Either way, I think they are good photographs.


  3. Pingback: Imperfect Symmetry | The High Street Reporters Blog

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