The blog of photographer Kim Ayres

Asymmetrical Symmetry - and Episode 80 of Understanding Photography with Kim Ayres

Symmetry – we all know what that is, yes?

If not, a quick google search will tell you.

Can't be bothered to google it? OK, basically it's when 2 sides of something reflect each other perfectly.

In essence, if you stuck a mirror in the middle of the image, the reflected half in the mirror wouldn't really look any different to the actual half if you removed the mirror.

So a circle is symmetrical and so is a square, but an arch is only symmetrical left-to right, not top-to bottom.

Which brings us on to Asymmetry, which is where one side is totally different from the other.

So where the Canadian or Japanese flags are symmetrical (left to right), the American and South African flags are not.

In photography, asymmetry is often favoured. The "Rule of Thirds" is all about having your main subject off-centre.

Part of the reason for this is when something is perfectly symmetrical, the brain doesn't have to work very hard to absorb the image, and so doesn't feel the need to devote much time to it.

Seen it. Got it. Next...

So what's Asymmetrical Symmetry then?

Photographically it's about capturing an image that at first glance appears symmetrical, but it's not quite. There's just enough symmetry to appear pleasing to the eye, but just enough asymmetry to hold the attention.

So think of a door with a window on either side, but with a cracked flower pot sitting on only one of the windowsills.

Or a cat sat, facing forward, staring into the camera, but the tail or the tongue coming out on one side.

Think mirror-like between the two sides of the image, but with something subverting it, and undermining the reflection.

This, then, is the Challenge I'm setting for next week's podcast – create and submit a photo that has an asymmetrical symmetry to it.

See how you get on – I'm really looking forward to seeing what people are going to produce! But if you find you're struggling, then you can still submit a photo you're having difficulty with - just explain the problem and I can include suggestions and ideas in the podcast too.

Either place your submission (just the one please) into the Understanding Photography with Kim Ayres Facebook Group:

or email it to me if you don't do Facebook

Try and get it in before the end of the weekend, or by Monday (25th October) at the latest. Anything that arrives on Tuesday runs the risk of not being included in the podcast.

You can use a phone, tablet, point-and-shoot or DSLR (or mirrorless).

And then, make sure you tune in to YouTube here -

on Tuesday 26th October at 7.30pm (UK time) where I'll go through the photos, and give comments and feedback, and hopefully we will all become inspired by some of the submissions to go and try out new things with our photography.

Meanwhile enjoy Episode 80, where I explore these ideas of asymmetrical symmetry, and give feedback and critique to submitted images.

And if you decide to click through and watch it directly on YouTube (rather than here on the blog), then you can watch the Live Chat Replay and see the comments people are writing in real time as the podcast progresses.


1:57 - Welcome, what's coming up, greetings and comments
08:04 - Introduction to Asymmetrical Symmetry
22:46 - Moment of panic as I accidentally close the browser
24:03 - return to summing up Asymmetrical Symmetry
29:54 - Introduction to the Critique Section
32:15 - Vandana - a cross and a cobweb - bringing the elements together
39:30 - Mac - the problem of seeing the edit
44:45 - Rosie - creating a larger expanse to emphasise the mood
50:45 - Rose-Marie - photographing fungi - when subtle images get lost in crowd-voting sites
1:10:05 - Coming up next week - The Asymmetrical Symmetry Challenge
1:12:10 - End

If you found this interesting/useful/entertaining, then please consider supporting these podcasts and blog posts via

Be sure to subscribe to my YouTube channel - – to be notified of new podcasts and behind-the-scenes videos.

And, or course, if you would like to submit a photo for feedback, or just ask a photography related question, then either email me or join my Understanding Photography with Kim Ayres Facebook group and I will put it into the following podcast:

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