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Understanding Balance in Photography Composition

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Balancing elements in photography becomes important when you’re framing your shots.

In our “rule of thirds tutorial” we explained how placing the main subject of your photo off center can create a more dynamic photograph composition.

That’s because asymmetry makes a photo more appealing to a viewer.

The only problem with this trick is that it can also leave an empty space in the photo which may make the scene feel empty. In some instances this may work very well for you image, but if it doesn’t you should try to balance the visual weight of your subject by including another object of lesser importance to fill the space of the composition.

Examples of Balance in Photography

Take the photo below for example.

You’ll notice that the photographer followed the rule of thirds compositional rule by placing the OUT sign on the imaginary line on the right side of the grid. The wall is placed on the imaginary line of the bottom of the grid. If the building was not included in this photo it may feel very unbalanced to some viewers. That’s because the sign would have more weight and emphasis since the left side of the image would contain empty space.

Balance in Photography by Shannon Kokoska
Photo by Shannon Kokoska

The photo above feels better to a viewer because proper balance in photography is achieved by the visual weight of the OUT sign on the right being balanced by the building on the left side of the photo’s composition.

Below is another example of balancing elements in photography.

The composition below showcases the use of symmetry in photography. Notice how the egg is perfectly balanced in the middle of the photo. There is even space on all sides of the egg. This is an easy way to achieve balance in your photographs, however keep in mind that symmetry in photography can lead to a boring looking photo. That’s why we recommend that you try to capture asymmetrical images that contain elements to balance each other out.

Balance in Photography by PhotoChart
Photo by PhotoChart

Here’s another example of using proper balance in photography composition. The photographer positioned himself to place the juniper in the foreground and to the left side of the image, and the rock formation in the background and to the right side of the image. This framing effectively lends foreground interest and balance to the composition.

Balance in Photography by Photography Corner
Photo by Photography Corner

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