Gestaltitude: Photopsychology

At the beginning of Unit 5 of the ds106 open course we were directed to choose three tips to practice during the ‘visual storytelling’ part of the course. I found my guidance via the ‘How to be a better photographer…’ Storify collection of tips from ds106ers. I was drawn to the link provided by Mandi Caffrey on Twitter that suggested knowing about Gestalt Psychology to improve your photography.

Photographer Joe Baraban’s article focuses on six principles of visual perception taken from Gestalt Psychology that he regards as being most relevant to photography. So instead of using three tips, I decided to to double up and use six principles. In choosing this source of advice, I figured that not only would I gain tips about photography, but also learn something about Gestalt Psychology – a concept I had heard of but didn’t know anything about. In a nutshell, this approach to the analysis of visual pereception can be summarised as ‘the whole being greater than the sum of its parts’. In other words, an image can be reduced to its parts, and you can think about different parts of the image making sense when making one, but the overall effect of the photograph exceeds these parts. But knowing about the parts according to structuring principles can allow the photographer to achieve the ‘prime objective to present this visual information in a way that takes control of what the viewer sees when looking at our imagery’.

The aim is to take photographs that viewers will want to spend some time exploring. The secret is having an eye for composition and compositional elements such as the relationship between an object and its surroundings (figure-ground) or ways that the eye can enter or leave the frame (continuance).


This photograph was taken for the ‘Backyard Photo Safari’ Visual Assignment’. Overall, it isn’t a very interesting image, but it has parts that are very satisfying. The light tone and colour of the bench is prominent against the ground of the garden and the end of the bench extends beyond the frame allowing the eye to enter the frame along the converging lines of the wooden slats of the bench. The vanishing point of the converging lines is slightly off centre and the low stone wall and the red brick wall create a pattern of similarity of converging lines.

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1 Response to Gestaltitude: Photopsychology

  1. Pingback: Closing the curtains on Unit 5 | ds106 for TECH2002_15

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