Creating Visual Tension in Your Photos
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 Versailles
Cattleya 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 & 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