Principles of Composition applied in Photo Albums Design

In today’s digital age, we are constantly bombarded with an overwhelming amount of information every day. From social media feeds to emails, news articles, and advertisements, it can be challenging to sort through the noise and find what we need. This is where a graphic designer can help.

Graphic designers are experts in visual communication, and they have the skills and knowledge to organize information in a way that is easy to digest and understand. They can create layouts, infographics, and other visual aids that help to simplify complex information and make it more accessible to the viewer.

A good layout is the backbone of any good visual piece, regardless of format or platform. When creating a layout the designer will be arranging images, text, and other design elements on each page or spread, choosing the right balance, proportion, and spacing to create an attractive and cohesive visual composition that tells a story or conveys a message.

Representação visual da Série Fibonacci com os principios da Fotografia

The foundations and theory of layout is well established for centuries, and are believed to have come from the Fibonacci Series (pictured above), which was described by Greeks and Indians, dating back as early as 1202. During my time at University, I remember reading a very interesting book called “Planejamento Gráfico Visual” or Visual Graphic Planning in English, written by Brazilian author Milton Ribeiro, and published in 1987. This classic covers the fundamental principles of graphic design, including aesthetic components, visual communication, and the application of these aspects in various projects, I can’t find the most updated edition of this book unfortunately, but apparently, if you’re interested is available to read here.

Milton Ribeiro’s book gives important insights on how to create a sense of visual order and balance, which are essential to creating an aesthetically pleasing design. This can be achieved by following the fundamental principles of composition that are:


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Azores – Photo by: Karine Nieman

This principle refers to the distribution of visual elements within a design or photography. Balance can be symmetrical, where elements are evenly distributed on either side of a central axis, or asymmetrical, where elements are arranged in an off-centre way that still achieves a sense of equilibrium.


Lisbon – Photo by: Karine Nieman

The use of differences in color, texture, size, shape, or other visual elements to create visual interest and variety within a design.


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Coimbra – Photo by: Karine Nieman

Relationship between the size of different elements within a design. Elements that are too large or too small in relation to one another can create a sense of imbalance and discord.


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Santorini – Photo by: Karine Nieman

Is the overall coherence and harmony in a composition. It is achieved by using consistent visual elements throughout the design and avoiding elements that clash or create a sense of disunity.

Vouzela – Photo by: Karine Nieman

By using visual elements to draw the viewer’s attention to a specific area or element within in a composition. This can be achieved through the use of color, contrast, size, or placement.


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Azores – Photo by: Karine Nieman

By eliminating unnecessary elements or clutter in in a composition, so that the message or the intended meaning can be conveyed clearly and effectively.


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Repetition or alternation of elements in a composition, which can create a sense of movement, harmony, and visual interest, it can help guide the viewer’s eye through the composition in a deliberate and engaging way.

When having in mind these principles of composition we’re able to create a photo album that not only looks aesthetically pleasing but also tells a compelling story.

To exemplify how multiple principles can be applied within a single page of a photo album I will share some of the work I’ve done as a designer for VAL+WANDER Photography:

Example of page composition, showing how to apply principles of composition such as Balance, Rhythm and Simplicity.

I apply the Rhythm principle and choose to use four photographs that are quite similar to create this immersive experience that would transport the viewer to the precise moment captured in the images.

The Contrast created by the mountain shape gives an intentional dynamic that naturally leads the viewer’s eye to focal points, creating a pre-determined path that channels the viewer’s experience, they also direct the viewer’s eye inviting to explore this composition, yet their placement and the use of white space make them stand out in a harmonious way.

So last but not least, the white space in the design acts as a visual breathing room, allowing the eye to rest and focus on the subject matter without feeling overwhelmed. White spaces can be used to draw attention to certain elements, the example below explores the Emphasis principle creating a clean, elegant, and sophisticated look. But remember! too little white space can make the design feel cluttered and overwhelming…. while too much can make it feel empty and incomplete.

An example where the use of white spaces was essential for good composition

When designing a photo album, it’s important to have attention to these core principles and especially have fun during this lovely process. As a passionate graphic designer and photography enthusiast, I find designing photo albums to be the perfect blend of my two interests.

If you’re looking to create a beautifully designed photo album that captures the essence of your cherished moments, feel free to get in touch with me to discuss your project further.

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