The Balance of Life

What is it that attracts you when you walk through a new city or when you look at art? What is it that you look at when buying new furniture? Is it just the style of the piece or how it will balance out the rest of your furniture in your house? The same goes for clothes. You don’t just mix different patterns and colors with each other; you try to make your outfits match. 

Balance is indeed the key ingredient for our life

It is balance that we are actually looking for. The balance of patterns, forms, and design. Balance within the composition of details. Balance is indeed the key ingredient for our life. We find it in relationships, our daily life, and in the art we choose to create or to place in our home.

See how the dynamic of the staircase guides you gently to the Center of the photo

Balance does not mean perfection. It means the right amount of different components. Just look at your life and picture a life that is balanced versus a life that is perfect. Perfection means the lack of any component that doesn’t fit, is not right, or has a negative connotation. A life that has no disturbances – a life that is monotone – will eventually become boring. This is something we forgot when we ask for a perfect life.

A balanced life has it all: the good and bad things in a perfect circle of experiences and emotions that balance one another. Just imagine a life that has no disturbances, no faults, nothing that triggers a reaction in you. At first sight, it might sound amazing, but just imagine it clearly: there is nothing that you need to do, nothing that you need to fix. Isn’t that absolutely boring – having nothing that you have to think about? 

Life is all about everything and nothing. The pure balance of dark and light, happy and sad, male and female. This is what balance is: the spark of curiosity, the detail in the perfection, the perfection inside the mess, the experience of a full range of emotions. That is BALANCE.

Life is all about everything and nothing. The pure balance of dark and light, happy and sad, male and female. This is what balance is: the spark of curiosity, the detail in the perfection, the perfection inside the mess, the experience of a full range of emotions. That is BALANCE. 

Photography is about capturing this balance: the mess with the spark of joy, the story that shows the full spectrum of experience. It’s not just taking a photo. There is the intention of capturing a moment, a moment that is fully balanced with colors, structures, and symmetry. Capturing this balance is what I call art – the art of our life. 

The balance in nature

You might wonder how balance can be captured in a photograph, but nature has already answered this question for us. Every living being has something called a golden ratio which is the balanced symmetry of elements and structure found within it. This ratio has been broken down mathematically in what is known as the Fibonacci Sequence, which produces a ratio of elements at 1:1.618. The Fibonacci Sequence forms a spiral shape. One of the best natural examples of this is a growing fern which unrolls in perfect balance as it opens up. (I have to admit this is why I love this plant so much and have so many of them in my house and garden.)

The Fibonacci Sequence

Awareness of the golden ratio, also known as the Fibonacci Sequence, can really help us when taking photos. Just picture the spiral and keep in mind that the center of your photo, the story, the emotions – the most important part – is that small head of the spiral. Everything evolves around it and unfolds. You can use this principle in landscape and portrait photography, but also in flat lay photography, commercial, and art photography –  because it is the balance that attracts the viewer’s eye and it is this balance that makes the photograph appealing to us. 

This is why photography is not just capturing a moment, it is much more. How often have you had the experience of standing in front of an object and thought it was so  absolutely beautiful and maybe even perfect? That moment when you found yourself mesmerized, still and peaceful? Just looking at it, not able to move away?

I remember having one very special moment when I found a painting by Monet at the Metropolitan Museum. I was quite young back then and saw most of his art in books. But when I stepped in front of Île aux Orties near Vernon from 1897 my whole body just relaxed, and I had the feeling of understanding the entire world. The good and bad, the strong and weak, the bright and dark, the joy and pain in life. I remember tears rolling down my cheeks and one of the museum guides offering me a tissue and saying, “This happens, young lady.” Just recalling the painting and that moment brings tears to my eyes because life is simple and beautiful…but also a complicated mathematical spiral. This is what photography is. Snapping a photo is a way of creating art that touches people, art that can bring up emotions, memories, and experiences. A moment that makes people feel balanced and understand. 

Step by Step

That is what the golden ratio is for me and that is what photography portrays. But it is also a path of learning from nature. Using the golden ratio as a model for your photography can help you see the element in front of you through a dynamic lens that allows you to bring a structure to your picture. This guiding principle can help you divine the element in front of you into three areas, and finding the center in one of them. You can take the sequence and turn it around in any direction or even mirror it. What matter is that you keep the center of the spiral as the focal point of your photo and keep the distances of the other elements in relation to that. 

The golden ratio is what has helped me find my voice and I hope it will do the same for you.