How to Use Visual Metaphor in Photography

A metaphor is a word or phrase that symbolizes something else. In photography, you can use visual metaphors to make your stories more meaningful.

Here is how you can achieve effective visual metaphors with simple photography techniques.

How to Use Visual Metaphors

Symmetry is so appealing because it’s predictable and beautiful. You can use it as a metaphor for inner peace, friendship, or hope.

We can find symmetry almost everywhere. The kind you choose depends on your theme and your preferred genre.

For example, if you nature photographer, you can take photos of water reflections. If you’re a portrait photographer, you can photograph your model in front of a perfectly symmetrical wall.

If you’re a portrait photographer, pay attention to your model’s expressions. If you combine a sad expression with symmetry, your visual metaphor might not work effectively.

Create Hope With Negative Space

Negative space is extra space in your photo. This can be the sky, a wall, or any part of your image that’s empty.

Too much negative space can be distracting. But in commercial photography, it has the potential to be an incredible metaphor. Negative space is often linked to hope and potential.

Here are a few examples:

  • Someone standing on top of a mountain surrounded by a blue sky. This creates a feeling of victory and possibility.
  • People looking into the distance during the golden hour. This implies that they’re looking forward to the future.

Something as simple as an empty sky can make help you symbolize a variety of positive emotions.

Emphasize Emotions

Look at everyday items in your home. Is there anything that reminds you of a specific feeling or theme? You can use these items to make your visual metaphor photography even more powerful.

For example:

  • Paper butterflies can symbolize freedom.
  • Fake cotton clouds can be a metaphor for daydreamers.
  • Flying confetti can be a symbol of joy.

Turn Mirrors into a Metaphor for Self-Reflection

Mirrors are literally a reflection of the self. In photography, you can use them to symbolize self-reflection or self-discovery, you can add even more depth to your images.

You can use pieces of glass to symbolize beauty standards or a shattered sense of self. You can make reflections look different to your model. This can be a metaphor for self-development or dishonesty.

A different mirror reflection can also be a metaphor for a dream. For example, a little boy who looks at himself in the mirror and sees.

Create a Feeling of Life and Growth

Nature is often associated with growth, prosperity. You can use something as simple as a flower to suggest that your model is growing from an experience.

Photographer Bella Kotak often uses flowers in her fantasy-themed portraits.

These elements of nature make her images look grounded and magical at the same time. They also work as perfect visual metaphors for progress and growth.