Symmetry and balance in photography is more important than you think when composition images

What is balance in photography I can hear you say. If you place every element of interest in a photograph on one side or another, or more commonly by the beginners in the center of the image, you are leaving little or nothing to look at on the opposite side. This will be a unbalanced and most likely an uninteresting image.

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Formal balance

There are basically two types of balance in photography. The first is formal balance, also called symmetrical balance. As the name suggest it is when one or more identical or similar subjects are repeated symmetrical on each sides of a given point. The formal balance is most often recognized by subjects that are uniform in shape.

Informal balance

The second type, informal balance or so called asymmetrical balance is when one or more dissimilar elements are balancing on each side of a given point. Informal balance is less obvious because the subjects are not uniform. A well made image using informal balance is more appealing to the viewer compared to a symmetrical composed image.

If you have a large object in the image it should be counter balanced with a smaller object or objects to make a good composition. If you have flower appearing large in the foreground on the right side of the frame you can balance it with two or more smaller flowers on the left side. It does not need to be flowers on the left side, but anything that naturally balances the image.

Use of asymmetrical balance is more challenging and requires more artistic skill and training to do well compared to symmetrical composition.

Radial balance

There is also a third type of balance in photography – radial balance. This is when all the elements of the design “radiate” from a center point in a circular fashion. Radial balance is a great way to lead the eye into the focal point in the center of the ad.

How can you achieve a good balance in photography?

Balance when composing an image requires the correct combination of colors, shapes, and areas of light and dark that complement each another. It is easier than it appears and a lot of practice will help. By looking at your subject and capture it from different viewpoints, angles or even at different lighting, you can composed a balanced image. Rearranging the elements can also make the wanted effect.

Important techniques you must know when balancing your composition

  • Light against dark.
    Black against white has a much stronger contrast than gray against white. To balance gray against white you need a larger gray area to compensate compared to if you used black.
  • Colors
    Small areas of vibrant color can be balanced to larger areas of more neutral colors
  • Space
    Open space can be balanced on one side with the primary subject on the other side of the image
  • Large against small
    Sometimes larger elements on one side of the image can be balanced by a smaller element that is positioned by itself at the far end of the other side of the image.
  • Shape
    Large flat areas without much detail can be balanced by smaller irregularly shaped objects since the eye is led towards the more intricate shape. This is a very tricky type of asymmetrical balance that often ends up looking out of balance.
  • Texture
    Smaller areas with interesting textures (variegated light and dark, or random fluctuations) can balance larger areas with smoother, untextured looks
  • Eye direction
    Your eye can be led to a certain point in a picture by using elements like triangles or arrows or as simple as the eye is led in the direction the people in a picture is looking.

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