Find Your Pattern

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Patterns - If you keep your eyes open and look for it, its everywhere. The key is to observe. 

Patterns in simple terms are repetitive shapes, colours or objects, ordered in either regular or irregular formations. What could otherwise be a boring scene can be transformed into something intersting by putting patterns to use. As photographers, the key is to find them and then to carefully compose to make most of it. 

In this blog, let me emphasize on some of the effective ways to utilize patterns to create an impact. 

A. Connect 

Certain patterns could be used to convey a story. The key to success is to connect, in other words, juxtapose, to relate found pattern to the subject you carefully include. This would certainly take extra amount of efforts as one needs to wait for the right subject to appear in the frame. Could take a good amount of waiting and praying, hoping for the magic to happen. There are times it works in your favor and yet times may not yield any result. Thats the beauty of photography.    

In the example above, shot in Pushkar, colorful star studded background at a local "amusement" park caught my attention. Once I had carefully decided on my frame, including nothing but the colorful backdrop, minus any void, it was now time to think on how to make most of this beautiful canvas. Stars were the centrepoint of the image. It was now my duty to include a subject which could connect with the stars. As I parked myself, focus & exposure locked on my Nikon, this kid walks upto me to show his magic tricks. One of many in Pushkar trying their luck for quick cash. I failed to notice at that moment the shirt he was wearing, which apparently had stars on them. He performed a coin trick and I was amazed. I promised to pay him if he revealed the trick to me and he did ;) Once paid, he insisted to perform more tricks, which I opposed because I had image to make. Knowing his show was over, he wandered into my frame and leaned on the backdrop I was patiently waiting to fill. It was then that I noticed his shirt with stars. Without a word spoken and before a second could pass, I froze the moment - and here it is. 

At Dubai mall, the beautiful background with stripes of colors filling the frame caught my attention. Repetitive patterns - found. Now comes the hard task of connecting the background with a subject . Dubai mall being a very busy place, number of people passed through my frame, but none connected. Also, being Dubai mall, it isn't the easiest place to shoot with a DSLR, it was important for me to see way in advance, the people that may pass through my frame and keep myself ready to snap it away, when I see the right subject. About 30 minutes later, I see this kid walking towards me and observed the splash of colors on her dress. Once the shot was made, it looked as if this kid stole each of the colors on the wall as she ran across it. Connection - successful. 

Once the background with blocks of white tiles, which to me, related to game of Tetris, was found, it was now time to connect and make more sense of my imagination. Being a busy footpath, there was no shortage of subjects passing through, but none connected. And then this man walks by with a hand cart, as if he's the tetris collector. 

B. Scale 

Another creative approach is to showcase the grand scale of the scene using patterns. But the real success in showing the scale narrows down to breaking the pattern. Most often, the subject used to break the pattern should follow a minimalistic approach, so as to not disturb the flow of patterns. few examples below, 

The repetitive pattern of the parking lot facade is the main canvas and the cyclist is included to convey the scale of the frame and to add dynamism to otherwise lifeless image. Cyclist takes minimal   amount of framespace, while the facade takes a whole lot, which is the desired approach to stress on scale of the scene. 

Here we have a window cleaner dangling on a skyscraper in Dubai. The skyscraper follows the theme of patterns while the window cleaner highlights the grand scale of the scene. Minimalistic approach is again followed here to keep the frame in check. 

Without the human elements in above image, it could be hard to know the expanse of the image or convey the unique birds eye view perspective. With human element, the viewer can now immediately gauge the frame and skip a heart beat. 


There are times when you see patterns but find it close to impossible to have a subject which correlates or connects with the pattern. In such cases, just breaking the patterns in itself could prove sufficient to create a photograph with impact. 

One from holi in Barsana. The guy at the centre with the blue drum breaks the pattern. The blue color creates the contrast and acts as a visual magnet, the point to which the viewers eyes gets attracted to. 


And one final tip to play with patterns is to just let them be. Idea is to not break it but rather let it expand and consume whole of your frame, edge to edge. 

Burjuman centre as seen at night. There's no break in pattern in this image. The whole frame is occupied with windows, from end to end. The visual echo more or less leaves the audience puzzled and on the edge, wondering whats beyond. 

Yet again, on a very similar concept of filling the frame with repetitive patterns of vertical and horizontal lines. Point to note is to keep the corners closed. No voids, no leaks, just tightly closed with right amount of zoom as you shoot. 


One the biggest advantages of looking for patterns is the fact that it makes you OBSERVE. Its important to polish your vision as a photographer and I believe hunting for patterns and finding correlation of lines, colors, shapes and more in search of repetitions only makes your vision sharper. 

Good luck hunting :)

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