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  • Writer's pictureJohn Patota

Visual Weight

I am learning about an important aspect of good composition, Visual Weight.

Knowing how to recognize visual weight in a photograph is essential to good composition. Every element in your scene will have a different weight. Understanding where your viewer's eye travels will be a giant step towards improving your photography.

Here is the generally accepted order that draws people's people attention to elements in a photo:

Eyes - People are wired to look at someone's eyes when meeting them. Same is true in a photo.

Face - If the subject is looking away, then the face gets our attention.

Size, Color and Contrast - After eyes and face, people are next drawn to the largest element in the frame. A bold, bright color stand out in the frame, so does strong contrasting colors.

Signs - Our brains are trained to stop and look at signs to try to understand our surroundings. It could add interest to include a sign in your photo, unless of course if it detracts from an otherwise stunning landscape.

Take a look at this image taken of the statue of an Saura Indian Women outside of the natural History Museum in Raleigh, North Carolina. The statue, and particular her face, has the most visual weight because it takes up move of the the scene than anything else, and this was probably where your eyes went first. Next, I would hope you looked building because it contrasts against the sky. I think it also helps that her gaze is toward the building. Maybe you looked next to her hand gesture, then follow her arm back to her face. There are not any signs in the frame, but if there were your eye may have been wanting to go there next.

Now take a look when the Golden Ratio and Golden Triangle is overlaid.

I'll welcome your thoughts. Email me at

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