Repetition of one image or very similar images, whether exactly the same or with slight differences in exposure, crop or image quality, elicits an inquisitive eye. Repetition emphasizes the sameness and yet paradoxically indicates a difference. Andy Warhol used this strategy in his screenprints and photographs. In the image below, do you notice how the dog’s ‘stare’ becomes more insistent through repetition? 1. Make a still life set-up of your choice, but you can use any subject. 2. Try to emphasize your subject with the use of light. 3. Aim to make around 20 photographs. 4. Choose the best shot and process it to your liking. 5. Now create a presentation of that one photograph that involves six to eight copies. Make some notes on the overall effect.
My thoughts: Repetition, in my experience, may be used in many ways to enhance a composition. I have used this exercise to try and identify the various ways in which one can use repetition.
- Pattern: Repetition can be used to create a pattern using one form or design and can result in a pleasing visual arrangement. Usage of this individual image can be done in many ways to achieve unique patterns and designs.
- Size and largeness: Repetition may also be used to create an illusion of a large size or volume. A repeated form makes a visual appear larger than it is. An overflowing visual will give an appearance of a large volume or large number than it actually might be. The same individual image, when used more than once create an illusion of something bigger. When even further increased, it can create even a much larger end result.
- Impact/Effect – Repetition can be used to create a visual impact or guide the viewer’s eye to the area that you want to highlight or emphasize. It may be used to create illusions and other visual effects. The multiple usages of a single form may also help in reinforcing a certain element within your composition and a focus point which might not be seen in a single form can be enhanced greatly by repeating.
4. Different moods – Here I have tried repetition with different light gels to emulate Andy Warhol’s style and the result is quite dynamic. Each visual gives a different mood and put together its quite pop art kind of a visual effect.
Reflections: This exercise is merely an introduction to how repetition may be used. It may not look like anything in this format but repetition while making images can create some really striking visual effects. Repetition used rightly can create some stunning visual effects and impact and can be used in many unique and different ways to build and add strength to your composition.