Photography

5 Essential Books to Learn Composition and Balance

Improve your photo composition skills with a handful of recommended publications

Creating an image is not merely putting different elements together. Composition and balance are essential to ensure our photo elements are well placed, effectively structured, and guide the viewer's gaze to the center of our image.

Lídia Vives (@lidiavivesphoto) is a photographer specialized in artistic photography and known for her pictorial self-portraits that always hide secrets. Lídia's work has been exhibited in galleries in Spain and Australia and is inspired by the Renaissance's great Italian masters.

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Lídia Vives
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Lídia Vives


Concerning the Spiritual in Art, Wassily Kandinsky

Considered by many to be the father of abstract art, Kandinsky published this book in 1912. Across just 50 pages, Kandinsky compares humanity's spiritual life to a pyramid and the artist's role to lead humans to the top of this pyramid. With the analysis of Picasso, Matisse, and earlier masters, Kandinsky offers pioneering and provocative thoughts on color, the nature of art, and definitions of painting.

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Concerning the Spiritual in Art, Wassily Kandinsky


Point and Line to Plane, Wassily Kandinsky

In this publication, written about 15 years later, Kandinsky analyzes art from a more concrete position, looking at the geometrical elements of a painting: point and line. He examines images both from the artist's point of view and the effect created in the viewer. Kandinsky talks about the canvas and materials on which the artist paints as the 'basic plane'; the point is the smallest form placed in the artist's canvas. The line represents the force applied by the artist in any given direction, to produce a composition.

"A composition is nothing other than an exact law-abiding organization of the vital forces which, in the form of tensions, are shut up within the elements." W K.

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Point and Line to Plane, Wassily Kandinsky


The Photographer's Eye, Michael Freeman

This book aims to help develop an eye for great digital photos. Designing a successful photograph by organizing the elements into a convincing composition is key to strong photography. The development of digital photography has had a major impact on 'designing' our images: the camera gives instant feedback and photographs can be enhanced later with image-editing tools. The book shows us how to achieve compelling composition and exploit editing and manipulation tools.

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The Photographer's Eye, Michael Freeman


Fundamental Principles of Art History, Heinrich Wölfflin.

In this classic treatise, published in 1920, German professor Heinrich Wölfflin aims to explain the differences between art in different ages and cultures, and how the same work of art causes entirely different reactions among viewers.

He examines factors such as style, quality, and mode of representation against five different precepts (the linear vs. painterly, plane vs. recession, closed vs. open form, multiplicity vs. unity, and clearness vs. unclearness) by analyzing the work of 64 major artists including Botticelli, van Cleve, Durer, Holbein, Brueghel, Bouts, Hals, Rembrandt, Velasquez, Titian, and Vermeer.

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Principle of Art History, Heinrich Wölfflin


Evolution in Color, Frans Gerritsen

The book, written by the author of Color, Optical Appearance, Physical Phenomenon, and Artistic Means of Expression has been published in six languages. Besides offering an overview of the theory of color from antiquity to the present, Gerritsen guides you in creating your own color-perception model, to allow you to place all color values within a color system.

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Evolution in Color, Franz Gerritsen

If you want to know more about Lídia’s work, sign up to her course Pictorial Portrait Photography, in which she shows you how to create well-structured narratives for your images.

You may be interested in:

- Essential Photography Apps
- 5 Essential Photo Retouching Courses for Perfectionists
- Photographic Composition: 9 Basic Principles You Should Know

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