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Creating Visual Tension in Your Photos

Potomac River and Georgetown at Sunset from the Kennedy Center Rooftop Terrace

Potomac River and Georgetown at Sunset 
from the Kennedy Center Rooftop Terrace

Visual tension is a compositional technique that uses a variety of framing approaches to create dynamic elements in a photograph to draw in and stimulate the interest of the viewer. It is a way of using the energy and movement available in various features of the image to draw the eye into the picture. Tension is what prompts the viewer’s brain to spend a little extra attention trying to understand an image. The visual elements translate not only into recognizable objects but also into emotions and actions.

 

Garden at the Palace of VersaillesGarden at the Palace of Versailles  

 Cattleya Orchid, Smithsonian CollectionCattleya Orchid, Smithsonian Collection

The tension can be created by a strong focal point or converging, leading or contrasting lines. As photographers, we “see” those converging, leading and contrasting lines in almost all genres of photography – architectural, nature, landscape, abstract, etc. The tension can also be created by including wide angles – for instance 2 diagonals that intersect at 90 degrees or triangles.

Mother and Daughter ut for a walk in Paris

Mother & Daughter out for a walk in Paris

Visual tension is also effective in street photography, showing body language (in both a positive and negative way).

The next time you pick up your camera, think about creating images with visual tension – send us your best images, and we’ll post them on our Social Media accounts!

Photos courtesy of Sherryl Belinsky 

 

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