Balancing a Composition

A balanced composition has masses that are distributed across the image. Most nude compositions are simple, having just one mass. (Visual mass is the magnitude to which a form or shape attracts the viewer’s eye.) The relative sizes and placement of various masses within a composition are what
determine if it is balanced.

Imagine your image as being balanced on a pivot point, like a seesaw, and ask yourself which side is
heavier. If both sides are equally weighted, you have balance. An image does not need to be symmetrical to be balanced, nor do the elements need to be spaced equally from the center. A sense of balance is somewhat will vary from person to person. But, it is not difficult to reach consensus on the balance of most compositions.

Three Kinds of Balance Summarized

  • Formal balance: Symmetrical photographs work best when the balance of the symmetry of the subject itself is the strongest, most interesting factor about it. (See image #1)
  • Informal balance: The most common kind of balance; the composition is balanced between left and right halves by elements of equal visual weight.
  • Radical balance: The line of equilibrium is far from the center. (Image #2)

1. Being close to symmetrical is an easy way to make an image balanced.


2. Balanced images can still have a sense of tension.

A. K. Nicholas (159 Posts)

A. K. Nicholas is an American photographer with a passion for collaborating with models and sharing knowledge. His initial training with the nude was figure drawing while studying art in college. His first nude shoot was when a classmate in college assumed that his invitation to model meant for her to be nude. He spent the following two decades photographing hundreds of models. He is happiest when working on creative projects and helping others further their artistic endeavors.