Two Shot Strategy - Symmetry

Two Shot Strategy – Symmetry


By Hiroyuki

This tip was submitted via email by DPS reader, Todd.

Hi Darren, here’s a tip that I’d love to share with your readers.

When I’m out and about with my digital camera I’ve gotten into the habit of taking at least two shots of almost every scene that I see.

A Symmetrical shot and an Asymmetrical one (or one with the subject dead centre and one with it off centre).

I know that compositional rules like the rule of thirds say to put your main object off centre to create more interest in your shot (and I agree that it usually gets the best results) but sometimes the most stunning shot is the one when you put the main point of interest slap bang in the middle of your shot and where there’s real symmetry in the image.

As a result I’ve trained myself to always take at least two shots – one looking for to use the rule of thirds and asymmetry and the other with as much symmetry as possible.

The beauty of digital photography is that it doesn’t cost any more to take two shots than one and the results of doing so mean when I get back to my PC I have the choice of two shots of most scenes.

PS from Darren: Great tip Todd. I have another friend who tells me that she does something similar – but her two shots are always one in a horizontal framing and the other in the vertical framing.

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Darren Rowse is the editor and founder of Digital Photography School and SnapnDeals. He lives in Melbourne Australia and is also the editor of the ProBlogger Blog Tips. Follow him on Instagram, on Twitter at @digitalPS or on Google+.

Some Older Comments

  • evin pesic September 2, 2012 01:37 am

  • Burt Sklaroff May 10, 2012 02:12 pm

    I really like your approach. A good way to have your cake and eat it. Somewhere in between is the Pic you want.
    Very good, thanx.

  • RICHARD DUFFY February 13, 2011 05:44 am

    Great Shot It Shows Why 2 Thirds Rule Some Times Can Be Broken To Improve Composition

  • CutiMalaysia December 18, 2010 12:09 am

    Nice example and nifty image, it would be nice if you could show us more example. Thanks

  • ryan February 17, 2010 09:58 pm

    I thought it was suppose to explain what symmetrical photography was not what you do to produce it....

  • Krish January 6, 2010 09:22 pm


    I wanted to take a picture of the moon on the 31st december 2009. when we had a full moon in India. I tried several time but could not get a clear picture. I use a Nikon D3000. Lens is 15-55 AF

  • vkeong October 23, 2008 01:33 pm

    If there are more photo examples posted this tip would be better. Anyway, thanks for sharing!

  • john November 29, 2007 11:54 am

    For those wondering about the sky, I note from the Flickr link that this was shot with a circular polarizer.

  • thomas October 1, 2007 09:11 am

    I'd like to say something regarding the belief that rules limit creativity. While it sounds correct intuitively, it generally is wrong.

    These sorts of rules are generalities we've come to understand over time. There is no art without limitation, that is to say, without restraining something via a conscious choice.

    Basic rules often merely create the space within which the artistic vision is worked out. They don't necessarily inhibit freedom they provide the context for freedom.

    Please, learn to work within thses rules, master the aesthetic. Then you won't so much be breaking the rules as you will discovering the truth beneath words that form the rule.

  • thomas October 1, 2007 08:59 am

    The sky isn't tinted blue. Look at the bright white -- it is white. If it had been tinted you would see a blue tint to the white as well.

    I really think the intense blue is due to the film used -- it's that fake cheese film: velvia. :-)

  • DKCN May 15, 2007 11:11 pm

    I think that's the beauty of photography. It's an art. Following rules will limit your creativeness.

    But of course, rules are there to guide you, and i think i speak for everyone when i say all this tips on photography really help. Thanks

  • Mark May 4, 2007 08:05 pm

    I think it would look great as a black and white.

  • Bob March 5, 2007 08:05 am

    The idea of taking more than one shot is the key. The hard part is what changes you want to make for each shot. When I am on a long vacation I tend to take 100 pictures a day and delete the poor ones before I get to my PC. I do not take many duplicates. When I am out for the day space is not a problem so I will work harder at taking several photos of the same scene using a different perspective or settings.

  • tony melancon March 5, 2007 07:12 am

    Horizonally, the land plane is almost center of the
    picture. The upper dark blue of the sky helps balance
    the image toward thirds. Well balanced photograph.

  • MD March 4, 2007 02:19 pm

    I agree with the comment that the blue tint in the sky is too much. Other than that - I really like this photo...the contrast with the fields is a nice touch.

  • Olga March 3, 2007 05:44 am

    I usually try to take at least 2 or 3 images of the same scene. I either change the angle of shooting, or camera settings,or play with DOF, or change lighting. It allows me to choose a better image later. Thanks for your advice. I will make use of it next time.

  • larry March 3, 2007 05:15 am

    At first I thought that showing the 2 images would have made sense, but this subject matter(of the country road)demanded the symmetrical approach; the other image was most likely inferior to the one posted...

  • A German in Tennessee March 2, 2007 11:31 am

    Good idea, yes. But the picture with the blue tinted clouds is not a good idea. It's TOO MUCH!!! Adding to a picture is fine, this is killing it.

  • Reggie February 27, 2007 07:51 pm

    For this photograph, I think the second shot should have been taken approximately one foot in front. If I cover up the the white line at the bottom of the photo, suddenly - whoosh - the road is racing towards me, unrestrained. Western thinking often has a great fear of empty space.

  • photonpoet February 27, 2007 04:19 pm

    And a fifth shot: turn around and shoot whatever is behind you.

  • Crazy Carl February 27, 2007 03:33 pm

    I tend to take a couple shots myself, usually flash/no flash if the lighting looks dim. but this is a good idea!

    I wouldn't take horizontal/vertical framing shots though. Just zoom out (or step back) a little and crop when you get home!

  • Jeff O'Hara February 26, 2007 03:01 pm

    Sounds like there should be a 4 shot strategy now, 2 horizanta l: asymetrical, symetrical & 2 vertical: asymetrical, horizantal.

  • Rachel February 26, 2007 02:26 pm

    Yeah - I was hoping to see the other shot too! Please post if up if you can :) Thanks

  • Lachlan February 26, 2007 02:03 pm

    I now find that for every photo I take a few different exposures, plus a bit of exposure bracketing for HDR, and the horizontal and vertical... thank goodness SD cards are getting cheaper!

  • Trond Wuellner February 26, 2007 01:56 pm

    Anyone else think it's strange that a post entitled "Two Shot Strategy," only has one picture in it?