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The story behind that picture: "Rhythm in Photography"

By: Thorsten Overgaard


An intersting aspect in images you may have some fun noticing and creating, is rhythm. Rhythm is sense of aesthetic repetition in an image and is an element that can create involvment of the viewer. It can also make a still image appear as a continious story, as in a movie

"Playing Ball" from The Salzburg Collection. Leica M9 with Leica 90mm Summarit-M f/2.5.

As you have in music, you have a rhytmic prediction in images. You look around at the number of windows in a building, the lines between the tiles on the floor, the charis in a cinema theater, the parked cars outside the mall. There is a rhytmic prediction to those.

"Shadow Sprint" from The Salzburg Collection. Leica M9 with Leica 50mm Summicron-M f/2.0 II

Omitting one car in a series of cars in a parking space can almost be humor because it is breaking the predicted and expected rhythm of things. Or the one person in a lineup of people that does not look like the others.

"The Walk" from The Salzburg Collection. Leica M9 with Leica 50mm Summicron-M f/2.0 II


Rhythm is any kind of movement characterized by the regular recurrence of strong and weak elements.


"1956" from The Salzburg Collection. Leica M9 with Leica 90mm Summarit-M f/2.5


Rhythm in photography is of course very related to composition as well as the timing (I will write more about timing in photogprahy later).


Tokyo. Leica M9 with Leica 50mm Summicron-M f/2.0 II


In photography the dynamic range is much less than for the eye, so shadows become darker in images and those shadows can form a repetition or rhythm.


"Pulp Fiction" from The Salzburg Collection. Leica M9 with Leica 50mm Nocrilux-M f/1.0


It is intersting analyzing your own and others' photos for rhythm. It is a very fundamental element that is so basic that you may never have thought about it. But when you start noticing, you also see the relation to composition, timing and the overall message.

When I stop in the street to take a photograph, it is because I have already 'seen' the picture. Looking for rhythm in the images I have taken previously is a drill I do to analyze and understand what it is that I see and hope to get in my picture.




Thorsten Overgaard, July 11, 2012



Photo above: "Victoria Station" from The Salzburg Collection. Leica M9 with Leica 50mm Summicron-M f/2.0 II


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Thorsten Overgaard
Thorsten von Overgaard is a Danish writer and photographer, specializing in portrait photography and documentary photography, known for writings about photography and as an educator. Some photos are available as signed editions via galleries or online. For specific photography needs, contact Thorsten Overgaard via e-mail.

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