Gestalt theory, based on Gestalt Psychology of the early 1900’s, is summed up in the adage “the whole is more than the sum of its parts”. Gestalt theory is taught to graphic designers so they can create more dynamic, impactful and memorable images.
When applied to photography the theory shows us how our brains look for structure and patterns in order to organize and simplify complex images. Our brains group together parts of an image instead of treating at it as a series of unconnected elements. Viewing images in this way, gives the viewer a visual understanding of the photograph in a very short period of time. Basically, in the blink of an eye, as little as 13 milliseconds. Faster than the shutter on the camera that took the photo.
Creating more engaging photographs starts by understanding how the viewer will “see” the photograph. We think that it should be the way we see it, but the viewer lacks a powerful element which distorts our view: the original experience. When you remove the emotions of the experience, does the photograph still resonate with the viewer as it did with us? To truly share that moment, we need to apply the composition rules we can learn through Gestalt.
The following 10 Gestalt theory ideas should help you on your quest to create better photographs. As you learn to apply these guidelines, you should be able to capture the photograph you want in camera!
This list shows 10 ways the brain, as defined by Gestalt, reads your photographs.
Assignment in two parts:
One: Pull up photographs on the Internet and find an example for each of the 10 principles listed above.
Two: Create photographs to illustrate each of the 10 principles.