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The Use of Gestalt in Photography

Food For digital Thought: More on Proximity.

This is a follow-up to my first post on one of the concepts of Gestalt I teach  in one of my three online classes with the BPSOP, as well as in my “Stretching Your Frame of Mind” workshops I conduct around the planet This concept is called Proximity and if used in your thought process, it will help you make stronger more memorable photos.

Besides what I talked about in my first post, another way Proximity can make your images stronger is by grouping your subjects together so that a relationship or common bond is created. Research suggests that the viewer prefers to see similar objects grouped together, and by placing objects close together you will be offering the viewer an explanation of the message you’re trying to get across.

One example is when you purposely arrange the elements of your composition so that they relate to one another and becomes a visual unit.

We all love repeating forms, shapes and colors, and if you can include these in your grouping, it will create a pleasing rhythm and a sense of unity that will keep the viewer around longer. Another good example is watching a flock of Geese fly overhead. I, for one, find it visually interesting and will usually watch them until they become dots on the distant horizon.

 A well known set of diagrams will show you how it can work in your favor. In diagram (1), you see the nine elements scattered around and although they all look alike there’s not a visual bond between them and they are perceived as nine similar squares. In diagram (2) by placing the nine elements together, they form one big square and are perceived as one unit.

Diagram (2)

Diagram (2)

In the above photo, my goal was to have the viewer perceive this group portrait of all the clowns of Ringling Brothers & Barnum& Baily Circus as one unit. I also shot them with a 35mm Widelux panoramic camera so I could get close while getting them all in.

Here’s some more examples:

So, the next time your out and about, consider this concept in your composition. I think you’ll find it a big help in taking your photos what I always call “up a level”.

Visit my website at: www.joebaraban.com, and check out my 2016 workshop schedule at the top of this blog. come shoot with me sometime. In conjunction with the Santa Fe Workshops, I’ll be leading a group to Cuba for the third time next March. Come join me in what I’ll guarantee you to be an amazing experience, and you’ll return home with memorable photos from a wonderful country.

Don’t forget to send me a photo and question to: AskJoeB@gmail.com, and I’ll create a video critique for you.


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