Balance is one of the principles a photographer strives to achieve because it makes images look visually appealing. By arranging subjects or elements such as colors, light and shadows and shapes and making them work together, you can portray balance in your shots.
Symmetry – One of the major principles of photography is the Rule of Thirds where the subject is placed on one third of the frame, either in a horizontal or a vertical section. However, we also have the composition technique called 'symmetrical balance' or 'formal symmetry' which shows half of the frame as mirroring the other half. Subjects that have repeating patterns or have uniform shapes are good examples of symmetrical images.
Images that show pure symmetry might not retain the viewer's attention for long because there is no particular spot for the eyes to linger. Symmetrical images would be great as PC wallpapers or website background templates since they support rather than take away from the main point of interest such as program icons or the body of text.
Asymmetry – Also known as 'informal symmetry', this kind of composition can be applied to subjects that are not identical or even similar. Asymmetrical images are usually more striking than the symmetrical shots because the various elements lead the eye to the main point of interest.
There are many ways to show balance with asymmetrical compositions. The primary subject may be found on one portion of the frame but by placing secondary subjects on the space unoccupied by the focal point, you can achieve balance as well. If your subject is situated at the foreground, it can seem to exude weight or mass. If it occupies a large part of the frame, it also implies mass. You can counterbalance this 'heavy' subject by placing a smaller subject on the negative space.
Another way is to use depth of field. By focusing on the primary subject at one side of the frame and placing one or two secondary subjects further away, they act as blurry counterpoints that keep the image from looking lopsided.
Bear in mind that certain compositions can trigger impressions from the viewer, and this balancing between subjects can imply various meanings such as weakness, strength, emptiness or steadfastness.
Reading about photographic balance is a good way to understand the concept but putting them into practice is the best way to learn this principle. As you compose your shots, be aware of how it would look once the image is captured. Take note of the secondary subjects, not just the primary, because these are what will help balance and enhance your image. Aside from subjects, you can use contrasting textures, colors, leading lines, or light and shadows, as all these can also provide balance to your image.
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