Knowing Balance and Visual Weight in Photography

In photography, balance happens when the weather inside your photo are arranged in a manner that feels natural and pleasing towards the eye. A properly-balanced composition feels harmonious while an unbalanced it’s possible to feel “off” and fewer engaging.

Every aspect in your photo includes a “visual weight”, that is impacted by such things as its size, contrast, colour, tone and texture. For any balanced picture, you have to position these components to ensure that nobody area of the image has an excessive amount of “weight” when compared with other areas.

Let us check out the different sorts of balance, the standards that influence it and the best way to deliberately help make your pictures more (or fewer) balanced.

Symmetrical balance

Also referred to as “formal balance”, this is actually the simplest and many apparent method to compose your photo. Simply arrange the weather of the picture to ensure that they are symmetrical concerning the center.

Man doing handstand in office

Horizontal symmetry provides a pleasing natural balance. Image by Tokkes.

It’s most typical to determine photos arranged with horizontal symmetry, but vertical symmetry also creates a strong composition.

Industrial building reflected in water

Vertical symmetry can frequently be located in glare. Image by Randen Pederson.

The weather inside your scene don’t have to be identical. As lengthy because they are similar enough when it comes to visual weight and general appearance they can look balanced.

View down canal in Tronchetto, Italy

Even though this composition is not strictly symmetrical, the weather on each side have sufficient similarities to provide a sense of symmetry. Image by Marco Verch.

Asymmetrical balance

Sometimes known as “informal balance”, this really is trickier to attain but generally creates a more interesting photo. It’s more subtle than symmetrical balance but gives a similarly harmonious feel towards the image, drawing the viewer set for longer.

Girl taking photo across landscape

The arrangement from the cave, girl and hillsides draws the viewer’s eye round the scene, giving equal weight to any or all areas of the shot. Image by Giuseppe Milo.

When organizing a photograph asymmetrically, put the primary subject off-center, possibly utilizing a different compositional technique such as the rule of thirds. When the image feels unbalanced, place a number of secondary subjects within the remaining space.

These secondary points of focus provide the viewer another thing to check out, guiding their eye round the scene. They ought to tight on “weight” compared to primary subject so they provide additional interest without being a distraction.

What affects visual weight?

Whenever a component sticks out from all of your image, it holds some degree of visual weight. The quantity depends upon numerous factors.


Possibly probably the most apparent factor, bigger objects hold excess fat than smaller sized ones, and for that reason attract the viewer’s attention more. Generally it is best to help make your primary subject the greatest object, and support it with smaller sized ones.

Boat at sunset in Antwerp

Because the largest object within the scene, the boat within the foreground carries probably the most visual weight, using the city and sunset supplying extra interest and balance. Image by Amine Kaytoni

Tone and contrast

More dark products convey more visual weight than lighter ones. In case your subject is really a light tone, look out for distracting shadows and dark objects, and reframe your shot to exclude them if required. Many of the noticeable in black and white-colored photography.

Similarly, regions of high contrast naturally draw your skills. An easy object on the dark background, or the other way around, is a terrific way to focus the viewer’s attention in your primary subject.

A beach at sunset

Here, the dark foreground objects carry probably the most weight and draw the attention. The contrast from the lighter background adds interest without overpowering the scene. Image by Ian D Keating.

Colour and saturation

Bold, vibrant colours stick out greater than subtle, neutral shades. Instant contrasting colour against a far more monotone background supplies a strong focus inside your photo.

Girl sitting on floor next to two paper boats

The brightly-coloured paper motorboats within this shot act as a good counterbalance towards the extreme positioning from the lady. Image by Helga Weber.


Patterns and textures are visually intriguing and therefore become natural sights. Strong textures in supporting regions of your photo can help balance an off-center subject, but watch out for textured backgrounds which diminish the primary focus.

Rugged landscape by the sea

The feel from the water provides it with additional weight, assisting to cancel out the strong imagery from the coves. Image by Giuseppe Milo.


Objects in sharp focus hold excess fat than individuals that are out-of-focus. Many of the helpful for lowering the impact of undesirable elements inside your scene. Adjust your depth of field to blur distractions and pull attention to the primary subject.

Bottle on wall with blurred building in background

The brightly-lit building continues to be tossed out-of-focus to lessen the weight and stop it drawing an excessive amount of attention from the primary subject. Image by Matthias Ripp.

People and animals

We’re powerfully drawn to living creatures inside a photo, especially if we are able to see their eyes. This is often a blessing or perhaps a curse. In case your primary subject is really a person, others can be displayed distracting, whereas inside a landscape scene they are able to offer an interesting focus.

Husky sitting in front of snowy landscape

The husky within this image splits up the expanse of featureless land and balances the mountain tops without anyone’s knowledge. Image by Markus Trienke.


In case your image features a person, viewers will stick to the direction of the gaze. This lends weight as to the would certainly be empty space and could be a highly effective counterbalance by itself.

Man gazing out of the frame

The off-center positioning from the subject is balanced by getting him consider the frame. Image by Marc Hirt.

Abstract types of photographic balance

The weather of balance discussed above all can be physically seen when searching in a photo, but you may also achieve balance in additional abstract ways.

For instance, juxtaposing man-made objects against an all natural scene highlights their variations and provides an additional layer of meaning. You could utilize this to stress the destruction of natural environments, in order to show how nature finds methods to thrive even just in urban or industrial areas.

Chimney with plants growing out of it

The total amount within this photo is abstract instead of compositional, showing the contrast between your chimney of the abandoned factory and exactly how nature is reclaiming it. Image by XoMEoX.

Other causes of contrast and balance include ancient versus modern, living versus decaying, youthful versus old, and permanent versus temporary. Exploring these styles can give your photos extra significance.

Using imbalance for tension

If balancing the weather inside your shots gives a feeling of harmony and peace, deliberately staying away from balance will the opposite. Unbalanced compositions instil a sense of uneasiness and tension which, when used carefully, could be a very effective effect.

Silhouette of man and big wheel

This photo is extremely right-heavy, however the imbalance adds a feeling of mystery that is very engaging towards the viewer. Image by Reiner Girsch.

Balance in photography is a straightforward but important concept to get a handle on. The next time you are framing a go, pause and consider the visual weight from the elements inside your scene. A little change of composition may have a big effect on your photo’s balance, making the main difference between a typical shot along with a great one.