Balance is one of the more important rules of composition, one whereby elements are juxtaposed within a composition in order that the overall image has more balance.

Although aligning the main subject off-centre, such as according to the rule of thirds, can create a more interesting and dynamic composition, it can also sometimes lead to there being an imbalance due to the large area of negative space it produces, therefore an object of lesser importance can be placed in the empty space to balance the overall image.

This is known as an informal balance as the objects are not uniform, it’s therefore balanced asymmetrically.

Knowing how to balance objects in a composition is an important skill to master for the aspiring photographer, as properly balanced photos are simply more pleasing to the viewer.

Some examples illustrating the technique

Tips for when on location

  • Try to balance the main subject with an object of lesser importance.
  • The object of lesser importance doesn’t actually have to be an object in the literal sense, it could also just be an area of contrasting colour against a drab background, or an area of fine detail.
  • Be careful when using a large object as a counterbalance, as it can easily start competing with the main subject of the composition causing confusion for the viewer.

© Andrew James Kirkwood – 2017

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