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Mastering Photographic Composition and Visual Storytelling

Lesson 32 of 50

Gestalt Theory


Mastering Photographic Composition and Visual Storytelling

Lesson 32 of 50

Gestalt Theory


Lesson Info

Gestalt Theory

on its own. A musical note is just a sound. Lots of notes is a noise, but when you bring those individual parts together in a coherent way, they create an ensemble that elicits an emotional do. In other words, when you hear a piece of music played, you're hearing a collection of individual notes that, when put together in a coherent way, produce a harmonic hole. What was noise becomes a symphony. This observation is more formally described in gestalt theory and is equally true. A photographic composition guest Out is a German word for form. On refers to a psychology based hypothesis that attempts to explain how our brain works to interpret in a meaningful way the myriad bits of data picked up by our senses. It helps to inform us how best to compose, for example, a piece of music or, in our case, a photograph. So it elicits an emotional response, which, at the end of the day is surely the main purpose of photography. The five principles of gestalt theory are similarity, continuation, pr...

oximity, figure and ground and closure, and I'll explain each of these in turn, starting with a bunch of roses, a dozen red roses are perceived as one bunch at a single white rose, however, and it becomes a solitary flower against a background of red. Now, in visual terms, we group objects, it appears similar and see them as one entity, which creates unity. However, when an object sits outside this whole it shared dissimilarity draws our attention away from the bunch, emphasising instead, the individual continuation occurs when the I is compelled to move between one object on the next. In this image, which is full of mystery, the principle of continuance lead you where I want you to go. The bright tree on the left first draws your eye. You then continue from trunk to trunk until you get to the gap that leads deep into the forest on the unknown Beyond. Continuity then ensures the viewer is taken on an orderly journey through the picture space. It brings structure to an image in much the same way bars bring structure to music or using another analogy. Chapters bring structure toe a book. Next is proximity visual elements in proximity of perceived as a group, while distant objects have seen in separate the four women in this photograph of the main subject of the image and formed the group due to their proximity. The tram and the people waiting for the tram, on the other hand, being separate from the four women form the background. Separation gives an image a three dimensional appearance because it creates a sense of depth on so long as there is a relationship that links the subject and the background, the image retains its overall structure. Moving on our mind differentiates between object and area objects such as forms or shapes or Sina's figures, while the surrounding areas that perceived is either foreground or background. And this is where the figure and ground principle comes from. The simplest example of figure and ground is a dark object against a light background, or vice versa. And we can clearly see this here, where the oca colored leaf, which forms the figure, is defined against the backdrop of snow, which forms the ground in a more complex example. In this image, the figure ground relationship is more subjective, seen one way, the waterfalls and the oxbow, with the figures and the land and peak form the foreground and background. Seen another way, however, the peak forms of figure on the river and sky form the ground. In other words, the story is opened individual interpretation in both cases, objective or subjective. A clear separation between figure and ground brings visual clarity that will improve your compositions. And that brings me to the final principle of gestalt theory, which aptly is closure. Closure refers to our minds natural tendency to fill in the blanks. For example, As you look at this, your mind fills the spaces with the correct letters to complete the word just out now in photography, closure may be used to encourage fewer interaction by leaving gaps in the information provided the viewer's imagination fully engages with the image involving them in the process of completing the story. In this image, you don't see half a tiger. Instead, your imagination fills in the blank you're now engaged in. My story has become. Our story on the photographic experience has become a shared adventure. No

Class Description



  • Compose a shot consistently and effectively
  • Create artistic, powerful images quickly
  • Gain confidence in building narrative
  • Identify what stories you’re drawn to photograph
  • Brainstorm and develop concepts for creative shots
  • Trust your instincts when approaching a subject


CreativeLive is partnering with Chris Weston to offer you his Complete Photography Master Course. This is the second class in the series.

Today, everybody has a camera, but that doesn’t mean everyone’s a photographer. Chris Weston will show you how to do all the other stuff – how to “see” an image, tap into your creativity, and compose a photograph that makes the subject look as good in print as it does in real life.

This class isn’t about cameras, it’s about you – the photographer. It will break free your creative mind, get you thinking about narrative rather than object, and show you how to apply simple artistic skills that turn that next click into a powerful photograph.

Learn how to approach photography like a pro and start creating great pictures straight away. With in-the-field lessons, case studies and powerful tips and techniques, you’ll quickly unleash your creativity and gain confidence in expressing yourself through your camera.


  • Beginner photographers
  • First time DSLR or mirrorless camera users
  • Any photographer who wants to hone their artistic skills


Named one of the world's most influential wildlife photographers, Chris Weston takes a contemporary approach to photography. After launching his career in 2001, the Fujifilm ambassador's images have graced the pages of top publications like BBC, The Times, Outdoor Photography, Practical Photography, and Digital Photography. As a photography educator, Chris has written over 20 photography books, along with leading photo tours and online workshops.


Edmund Cheung

Perhaps the style of presentation and simple, short, and direct messaging does not "jive" with some; but others may really love this. Yes the production of each episode is stylized and perhaps a bit formal (like a TV Show?), but there is something to be said about it. Perhaps this is not meant for professional photographers? I think of myself as decent amateur / high level photographer. I found lots of great nuggets of wisdom and inspiration from this. Especially when I an in a rut for creativity. Yes I have heard all these concepts and ideas before. BUT it is always great to hear and see a different way of presentation and voice. Please do NOT take the naysayer reviews as the end all. You should judge for yourself and watch a few episodes. If the style and content click for you, I would highly recommend this course.

Kai Atherton

While I am perhaps more advanced in my photography then this course. It is always great to be able to go back to fundamentals and remind ourselves of the basic principles, and even camera function. I thoroughly enjoyed this course and Chris's other. It is a great motivational jumpstart when lacking fresh creative idea's.

Abdullah Alahmari

Thanks a lot to mr. Chris Weston This course is great and It is a 🌟 🌟 🌟 🌟 🌟 course for me. Beside the other course ( mastering the art of photography ) both courses are Complementing to each other and highly recommended.