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Tuesday, January 8, 2019

How to Use a Balanced Composition for Stronger Photos

There are two kinds of balance in photography: formal and informal. Understanding both—and knowing how to them—is an important part of composition. Let’s dig in.

Balance has been a part of composition since long before photography came along. It’s an integral part of most renaissance paintings. It’s also a slightly slippery concept. It relies on an idea called “visual weight” that is, in and of itself, a metaphor. The idea is that different objects in a scene all have different visual weight. People, brightly colored things, high-contrast objects, and unusual subjects, for example, all have high visual weight. Other things like large areas of space, sky, water, or ground, have low visual weight. The only way to get a handle on it is to see it in action and play around.

Formal or Symmetrical Balance

Formal balance is symmetry. It’s where the frame is split in half, either vertically or horizontally, and both sides are given equal visual weight. Have a look at this portrait.

It’s essentially perfectly symmetrical along the vertical axis.

Both sides of the image have equal visual weight. There is nothing that pulls our eyes to one side of the image or the other.

Here’s another portrait where, again, the model is central, so it’s pretty much symmetrical.

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