Photography Composition – Creating Visual Tension

When you have two subjects in your photo, place them according to this guideline in order to create visual tension and pull.

Photos courtesy of:
Hugh Mobley –
Dan Davenport
Josh York –

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5 replies
  1. hugh mobley
    hugh mobley says:

    When I took this photo I kind of remember of just shooting down the jetty, and for some reason I never paid attention, and noticed the guy and the bird in lightroom, usually, I take a bunch of photos of the subject, this one I have one, I think I was concentrating on the Lone Tree on the jetty. I see completely how out of balance this one is. thanks for CC

  2. pradeep
    pradeep says:

    Great lessons, as always, Josh

    One thing I could not help but notice that your closing image has a vertical tension instead of a diagonal one and I was thinking, in certain cases is it okay to do that when a diagonal composition is not feasible?

    Anyway, a great video and point to keep in back of the mind. Thanks a lot for posting these tips.

    • Josh Cripps
      Josh Cripps says:

      Hey Pradeep,

      It’s always ok to do exactly as you want. 🙂 The truth is that any kind of tension is ok as long as it helps your eye travel throughout the frame, and not simply in one plane (unless that’s what you want!). That closing image works because it has a background subject that travels across the frame horizontally, so once your eye is led to the background it is still able to traverse the full width of the frame and isn’t confined simply to one spot. Hope that makes sense!



  3. Rick Sovitzky
    Rick Sovitzky says:

    Just a general ‘thank you’, Joshua, for making the time and energy to share your experience and knowledge.

    Rick in SE WI


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