What Is Visual Weight In Photography

By | 13/10/2022

In photography, balance is when the elements in your photo are arranged in a way that feels natural and pleasing to the heart. A well-balanced composition feels harmonious while an unbalanced ane can feel “off” and less engaging.

Every chemical element in your photo has a “visual weight”, which is afflicted by things like its size, contrast, colour, tone and texture. For a counterbalanced moving-picture show, you need to position these elements so that no ane part of the paradigm has too much “weight” compared to other parts.

Permit’s have a look at the different types of rest, the factors that influence it and how you can deliberately make your pictures more (or less) balanced.

Symmetrical remainder

Also known as “formal balance”, this is the simplest and near obvious way to compose your photo. Simply arrange the elements of your picture and then that they’re symmetrical about the centre.

Man doing handstand in office

Horizontal symmetry gives a pleasing natural residue. Image by Tokkes.

It’s nearly mutual to see photos arranged with horizontal symmetry, but vertical symmetry too produces a stiff composition.

Industrial building reflected in water

Vertical symmetry can often be found in reflections. Paradigm past Randen Pederson.

The elements in your scene don’t need to be identical. Equally long equally they are like enough in terms of visual weight and full general appearance and so they will appear balanced.

View down canal in Tronchetto, Italy

Although this composition isn’t strictly symmetrical, the elements on either side have enough similarities to give a feeling of symmetry. Paradigm by Marco Verch.

Asymmetrical balance

Sometimes called “informal balance”, this is trickier to achieve only generally produces a more than interesting photo. It’s more than subtle than symmetrical remainder but gives an equally harmonious feel to the prototype, cartoon the viewer in for longer.

Girl taking photo across landscape

The arrangement of the cave, girl and hills draws the viewer’southward centre around the scene, giving equal weight to all parts of the shot. Image by Giuseppe Milo.

When arranging a photo asymmetrically, place the main subject off-center, perhaps using a dissimilar compositional technique like the dominion of thirds. If the image feels unbalanced, place i or more secondary subjects in the remaining space.

These secondary points of focus give the viewer something else to look at, guiding their eye around the scene. They should have less “weight” than the main subject and so that they provide boosted interest without condign a distraction.

What affects visual weight?

Whenever an element stands out from the residue of your image, it holds some level of visual weight. The amount depends on a number of factors.


Perhaps the most obvious factor, bigger objects hold more than weight than smaller ones, and therefore attract the viewer’s attending more. In general it’s all-time to brand your main subject the biggest object, and support it with smaller ones.

Boat at sunset in Antwerp

As the largest object in the scene, the boat in the foreground carries the most visual weight, with the urban center and sunset providing extra involvement and residual. Image by Amine Kaytoni.

Tone and contrast

Darker items take more visual weight than lighter ones. If your subject is a lite tone, watch out for distracting shadows and dark objects, and reframe your shot to exclude them if necessary. This is particularly noticeable in black and white photography.

Similarly, areas of high dissimilarity naturally draw your eye. A light object on a night background, or vice versa, is a smashing way to focus the viewer’s attending on your main discipline.

A beach at sunset

Here, the dark foreground objects comport the nigh weight and depict the eye. The contrast of the lighter background adds involvement without overpowering the scene. Image by Ian D Keating.

Colour and saturation

Bold, bright colours stand out more than than subtle, neutral shades. A burst of contrasting colour confronting a more monotone background provides a strong focal betoken in your photograph.

Girl sitting on floor next to two paper boats

The brightly-coloured paper boats in this shot act as an effective counterbalance to the farthermost positioning of the adult female. Image past Helga Weber.


Patterns and textures are visually interesting and therefore become natural points of interest. Strong textures in supporting areas of your photo will assist remainder an off-heart discipline, but beware of textured backgrounds which backbite from the main focal point.

Rugged landscape by the sea

The texture of the water gives it extra weight, helping to counterbalance the strong imagery of the cliffs. Epitome past Giuseppe Milo.


Objects in sharp focus hold more weight than those which are out of focus. This is peculiarly useful for reducing the touch of unwanted elements in your scene. Adjust your depth of field to blur distractions and pull attention back to the principal subject area.

Bottle on wall with blurred building in background

The brightly-lit building has been thrown out of focus to reduce its weight and prevent it cartoon too much attending away from the chief subject. Image past Matthias Ripp.

People and animals

We are powerfully attracted to living creatures in a photo, particularly if we can come across their eyes. This can be a blessing or a curse. If your chief subject is a person, other people tin can announced distracting, whereas in a landscape scene they can provide an interesting focal point.

Husky sitting in front of snowy landscape

The husky in this prototype breaks upwardly the expanse of featureless land and balances the mountains in the background. Image by Markus Trienke.


If your image includes a person, viewers will naturally follow the management of their gaze. This lends weight to what would otherwise be empty space and can be an constructive counterbalance on its own.

Man gazing out of the frame

The off-middle positioning of the subject area is balanced by having him look into the frame. Image by Marc Hirt.

Abstract types of photographic residue

The elements of rest discussed above tin all be physically seen when looking at a photo, but you can also accomplish rest in more abstract ways.

For example, juxtaposing man-made objects against a natural scene highlights their differences and gives an extra layer of meaning. You lot could use this to emphasise the devastation of natural environments, or to testify how nature finds ways to thrive even in urban or industrial areas.

Chimney with plants growing out of it

The rest in this photo is abstract rather than compositional, showing the dissimilarity betwixt the chimney of an abandoned manufacturing plant and the way nature is reclaiming it. Image by XoMEoX.

Other sources of contrast and residual include ancient vs modern, living vs decaying, young vs old, and permanent vs temporary. Exploring these themes will give your photos extra significance.

Using imbalance for tension

If balancing the elements in your shots gives a sense of harmony and peace, deliberately fugitive balance does the opposite. Unbalanced compositions instil a feeling of uneasiness and tension which, when used carefully, can be a very powerful result.

Silhouette of man and big wheel

This photo is very right-heavy, but the imbalance adds a sense of mystery which is very engaging to the viewer. Prototype by Reiner Girsch.

Balance in photography is a simple merely important concept to get to grips with. Adjacent time you’re framing a shot, cease to recollect about the visual weight of the elements in your scene. A small change of composition can accept a big impact on your photo’s balance, making the deviation between an average shot and a great one.

Source: https://www.photographymad.com/pages/view/balance