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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 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)