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Exploring street photography composition through Gestalt principles

Sometimes, we may notice that our street snaps don’t produce the desired effect in the viewer. The colors may not be working nicely. Maybe there’s no clear subject. There may be too much going on in the photo. Or, the shot simply isn’t inspiring. Whatever it is, there’s always something you can do to improve your street photography composition. So, if you already tried many techniques but didn’t find them effective, there’s one more approach to try.

In the video above, Brian Lloyd Duckett of StreetSnappers introduces us to Gestalt principles. He explains how a bit of psychology can actually help beef up our street photography composition. In a nutshell, the Gestalt Principles refer to the laws of human visual perception. These explain how we make sense of what we see. It’s in how we group similar elements, recognize patterns, and simplify complex images. These laws or principles address our natural desire to make find order in disorder.

As Duckett also noted, these principles allow our brains to make a global whole view of the world around us. In fact, the German word “gestalt” translates to “unified whole.” It can be summed up in Aristotle’s famous saying, “The whole is greater than the sum of its parts.”

So, by applying key Gestalt principles to our street photography, Duckett says we can make our images easier to digest. This, in turn, will make the viewing experience enjoyable and more engaging to our audience. In addition, these principles will serve as our guide when navigating a visually chaotic scene, as is often the case when we’re out in the streets.

So, do you think the Gestalt principles mentioned make sense for street photography composition? Share your insights with us in the comments below, or in our group discussions if you’re already part of the Photofocus Community!

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