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Pattern and Texture in Modern Photography

In photography, the magic often lies in the details—specifically, in the patterns and textures that imbue images with depth and character. For beginners in photography, learning to identify and effectively utilize these elements can be transformative. This guide aims to assist beginner photographers not only in recognizing these elements in their surroundings but also in mastering their application to create images that are felt, not merely seen.

Patterns and textures in photography


What is a Pattern in Photography?

A pattern in photography is characterized by the repetition of a certain element within the frame. It could be anything from a series of geometric shapes, a lineup of windows on a building, to the repetitive arrangement of leaves on a tree. Patterns engender a rhythm within the image, guiding the viewer’s gaze across the frame and frequently imparting a sense of order and predictability. They can be natural or man-made, regular or irregular.

A pattern in photography is characterized by the repetition of a certain element within the frame.

The key to utilizing patterns effectively in photography is not just in capturing the repetition but in presenting it in a way that either emphasizes harmony or, conversely, highlights disruption, thereby adding intrigue and interest.

Office windows pattern

What is a Texture in Photography?

Texture in photography refers to the perceived surface quality or 'feel' of an object within the photographic frame. It involves a detailed portrayal of surface characteristics—whether the roughness of a rocky wall, the smoothness of a silk cloth, or the intricate weave of a basket. Texture in images appeals to the tactile senses and adds a dimensional quality to photographs, making them more lifelike and relatable.

Texture in photography refers to the perceived surface quality or 'feel' of an object within the photographic frame.

The portrayal of texture depends significantly on lighting and perspective, as these factors greatly influence how the surface details are captured.

Jeans fabric texture

Photo by Lyris on

The Importance of Patterns and Textures in Photography

Patterns and textures constitute powerful tools within a photographer's arsenal. They can transform an ordinary scene into a captivating visual experience. When used skillfully, these elements can add depth, emotion, and context to your images. They invite viewers to look beyond the obvious and appreciate the subtler aspects of the composition.

Harnessing Patterns

Identifying Patterns in the Mundane

The first step in harnessing patterns is to develop an eye for them. Patterns are everywhere—in nature, architecture, and even in everyday objects. The key is to observe your surroundings with a fresh perspective. Look for repetitions and alignments that could create interesting compositions.

Once you spot a pattern, consider how you want to frame it. Do you want to fill the frame with the pattern, or do you want to include other elements for contrast? Symmetry and asymmetry can both work to your advantage, depending on the mood you wish to convey.

Breaking the Pattern

Occasionally, the disruption within a pattern serves as its most compelling aspect, creating a focal point and adding a layer of intrigue to your image. This can be a different colored tile in a uniformly tiled floor or a single wilting flower in a bed of blooming ones.

Stunk bug

Exploring Textures

Capturing the Essence of Textures

Textures are all about details. The key to capturing textures is to focus on the interplay of light and shadow. Side lighting can enhance the texture by creating shadows that emphasize the contours and details of the surface. Experiment with different angles and times of the day to see how the texture changes.

Macro Photography for Textures

Macro photography offers a fantastic way to explore textures. It allows you to get close to your subject and capture details that are not visible to the naked eye. This can turn an ordinary subject, like the bark of a tree or the weave of a fabric, into a fascinating study of textures.

Depth of Field and Textures

Playing with depth of field can add an artistic touch to your texture photography. A shallow depth of field (using a wide aperture) can isolate the texture, making it the sole focus of the image. In contrast, a deeper depth of field (using a narrow aperture) can contextualize the texture within its environment.

The Interplay of Pattern and Texture

Creating Semi-Abstract Images

Combining patterns and textures can lead to the creation of semi-abstract images. These images straddle the line between the real and the abstract, often leaving the interpretation open to the viewer. The trick is to find a balance where both elements complement each other without overwhelming the scene.

The Role of Color and Monochrome

Color can enhance or diminish the impact of patterns and textures. Sometimes, vivid colors can make patterns pop, while in other cases, monochromatic tones can better emphasize textures. Black and white photography, in particular, is excellent for highlighting contrast and detail.

Photo by ilco on

Emotional Impact

Patterns and textures can evoke different emotions. While patterns often evoke a sense of order and predictability, textures can convey roughness or smoothness, warmth or coldness, and even emotions like comfort or unease. Being mindful of these emotional undercurrents can add depth to your photographic storytelling.

Tips for Beginner Photographers

  1. Start with Your Surroundings: Begin by exploring patterns and textures in your immediate environment. Practice makes perfect.

  2. Experiment with Lighting: Understand how different lighting conditions affect patterns and textures.

  3. Play with Composition: Try different compositions until you find what works best for the pattern or texture you are capturing.

  4. Keep It Simple: Sometimes the simplest pattern or texture can make the most striking image.

  5. Post-Processing: Learn basic editing skills to enhance patterns and textures in your images.

Techniques for Capturing Them

Once you spot a pattern or texture, consider your composition carefully. Think about how you can frame the pattern or texture to maximize its visual impact. Experiment with angles and perspectives, and pay special attention to how light interacts with the surfaces you're capturing, as this can significantly influence the appearance of textures in your photos.


Combining Patterns and Textures

Merging patterns and textures can lead to visually stunning and complex compositions. A background filled with patterns paired with a subject that has a contrasting texture can create a sense of depth and intrigue. The interaction between these elements often results in images that are not only visually rich but also full of narrative potential.


For beginner photographers, the journey into the world of patterns and textures is not just about taking better pictures; it's about developing a new way of seeing the world. By learning to identify and use these elements, you can create photographs that are not only visually striking but also emotionally resonant. Remember, the most powerful tool in photography is your unique perspective – patterns and textures are just ways to enhance that vision.


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