Week 9: Let words carry visual weight in your photographs

In your photograph, all things are not created equal. 

When a viewer scans your image, she will be searching for something that looks "interesting" and usually find it in subjects that have visual weight.

Visual weight refers to items that are more likely to draw the attention of your viewer. Most notably visual weight refers to parts of the human face, like the eyes or mouth. It refers to some colors, like red or orange. 

This week we will focus on the visual weight created by words.

Photo by Greg Schmigel, www.justwhatisee.com

This is not a sign for a dog to see, according to Greg Schmigel. Greg captured this brilliant use of words as visual weight. If the photo is just of the dog, it doesn't have the same appeal. If the photo is just of the sign, it doesn't have the same effect.

When we scan a photograph, we almost always stop to read the words. After we read, we look for a connection between the words and the rest of the photograph. In street photography especially, you can use words to create humor, show irony, or reinforce a message. 

Remember that anything your viewer can read, he will read. If you can use that for more impact, you have the ability to create magic. 


The Challenge

Take a photograph where you use words to create visual weight. The words will ideally play a key part of the storytelling.


Share your images with us

Once you have a photo to share, post it in the comments here or tag it #composition21 when you post it on Twitter or Flickr.


Join the Composition Challenge

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Note: Greg Schmigel is a street photographer who uses his iPhone as his go to camera. He is the creative force behind Just What I See and founder of Mobile Photo Group