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Mastering Photographic Composition and Visual Storytelling

Lesson 47 of 50

Rhythm, Balance, and Visual Weight


Mastering Photographic Composition and Visual Storytelling

Lesson 47 of 50

Rhythm, Balance, and Visual Weight


Lesson Info

Rhythm, Balance, and Visual Weight

a photograph is visually balanced. When all the elements and the positive and negative space are arranged in such a way, there's equal weighting. No one area of the composition overpowers another on the visual narrative is written with rhythm and harmony. On the other hand, when one object is visually heavier than another, so it stands out and dominates while other objects recede into the background. There's imbalance, which leads to tension. Based on this observation, you might think that a balanced, evenly weighted composition is the best route to go on most of the time, I degree. But remember, photography's storytelling and sometimes a quirky or tension filled composition that takes the viewer outside their comfort zone is preferable to dull predictability. So the choice between balance and imbalance, as always, comes down to this story you want to write with your camera. Symmetrical balance occurs when visual objects on one side of an axis near perfectly reflect those on the opposi...

te side. The visual weight is evenly distributed across both halves of the frame. Symmetry evokes a sense of formality and elegance. Think of the classic wedding photograph where the bride and groom are standing to attention or the group shot of board relatives in a military precision line. In both examples, you see decorum, but you also see the negative sides of symmetry status on predictability. Toe absent dynamism, you need asymmetrical balance. Now asymmetrical balance occurs when a weighty element on one side of the axis is balanced by several smaller, less weighty elements. On the other side, it's the mix of unequal parts that gives the image visual energy. Another type of symmetry often encountered in photography, is translational symmetry. Now a perfect example could be seen in a viaduct where the regular art is repeating across the image space. Creating a recognisable pattern gives the image a sense of visual rhythm. A more subtle form is often used in portrait photography rather than relying on obvious Patton. In this instance, rhythm is created by posing the model in such a way that implied lines mirror and repeat. The famous image of Christine Keeler, taken by photographer Lewis Morley, is a classic example of translational symmetry. Notice how the angles of the arms match and former double mirrored V shape the same with the placement of the hands. Similarly, there is a symmetry in the angle of the legs and mirroring horizontal lines accentuated by the chair. Nothing in this image is coincidental. The photographer has carefully positioned the model to create rhythm and balance 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.


Silvia Garcia

Excellent ! Will see it many times to digest all the messages here. Important info on composition theory. Very well explained. Go to the essence of photography. Thanks, Chris !

a Creativelive Student

Absolute must to watch! Perhaps few times, as is packed with all the information you need to know to make your photography to the next level. I think it is the most comprehensive class on composition. Fantastic!


fabulous course no matter how advanced you are.. LEarned so much from it. I'll watch it again as it contains so much.