This is quite a tricky composition rule to explain and it’s one that we probably apply unconsciously, as our minds seek balance in images and art. A balanced image feels right, pleasing and stable.
In a balanced image there is perhaps some symmetry and the main subjects have equal weight or importance in the shot.
An image is well balanced if the subjects, colours, areas of light and dark, different textures etc are arranged in a way that they complement each other.
So far we have looked at formal balance, using symmetry and subjects that are of equal weight. This creates an image that is pleasing to look at. Informal balance is where one subject or area of the picture has more importance than another. The eye will typically look first at the stronger subject and then onto the secondary one. The lesser subject may be a detail that sets the scene or helps tell a story or even creates tension.
With informal balance it’s important that the subjects are placed correctly, otherwise the image jars and feels wrong, unbalanced. Keeping the rule of thirds in mind can help and using other rules like diagonals and leading lines too.
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