I’m currently teaching myself Gestalt Theory, a principle mostly applied to designers. Here are some ideas which can make you see the visual world from a design standpoint:
1. Figure to ground
In gestalt theory, you need a separation between opposing colors or brightness.
For example, white vs black, and black vs white.
The secret: create SEPARATION between the colors, avoid overlap.
When you place objects next to one another, the eye perceives them as part of a group.
To make better photographs, group certain subjects you want together, by placing them together.
This applies to leading lines, because our eyes want to see the forms and shapes continue through the frame.
For example, in this picture, your eyes want to see CONTINUANCE of the woman in umbrella, to complete her walking movement, to the right of the frame:
To apply closure to photography: make sure not to crop out any edges of an object at the edge of a frame.
For example, if you’re photographing a triangle, make sure the edge of the triangle doesn’t get chopped off.
Or for closure, if there isn’t any shapes or forms to fill in the blank spaces in your pictures, your brain will automatically try to fill in the negative spaces.
Practical Assignments to apply to your photography
I’m still working through these ideas on Gestalt Theory, but the basic principles to apply:
- Create clear separation between your subjects and the background
- Movement and negative space is essential in photos
- Avoid overlapping figures
- Keep it simple: shoot black and white, to better see the relationship between figure to ground in your pictures
- Use Procreate and iPad to visually analyze your own pictures
Dynamic Photography Composition 101
- Introduction to Dynamic Photography Composition
- How to Visually Analyze Your Photography Compositions
- Dynamic Tension: Opponent Based Theory For Photography
- Opponent Process Color Theory For Photographers
- Dynamic Photography Composition 101: Figure to Ground
Dynamic Photography Composition Tips
- How to Make Aggressive Photography Compositions
- 10 Dynamic Photography Composition Tips
- How to Make More Dynamic Picture Compositions
- Unorthodox Photography Composition Techniques
- Deconstructed: Saigon Eric Kim Photos
Take your composition to the next level:
- Center Eye
- Dutch Angle
- Deep Depth
- Leading Lines
- Figure to Ground
- Fibonacci Spiral
- Composition by Eric Kim
Street Photography Composition 101
For distilled lessons on composition, read the free ebook: “The Street Photography Composition Manual.”
Further articles to improve your compositions in photography:
- Composition Lesson #1: Triangles
- Composition Lesson #2: Figure-to-ground
- Composition Lesson #3: Diagonals
- Composition Lesson #4: Leading Lines
- Composition Lesson #5: Depth
- Composition Lesson #6: Framing
- Composition Lesson #7: Perspective
- Composition Lesson #8: Curves
- Composition Lesson #9: Self-Portraits
- Composition Lesson #10: Urban Landscapes
- Composition Lesson #11: “Spot the not”
- Composition Lesson #12: Color Theory
- Composition Lesson #13: Multiple-Subjects
- Composition Lesson #14: Square Format
Learn compositional theory:
- Why is Composition Important?
- Don’t Think About Composition When You’re Shooting Street Photography
- How to Use Negative Space
- Street Photography Composition 101
- The Theory of Composition in Street Photography: 7 Lessons from Henri Cartier-Bresson