As we continue with the “total look” analysis and construction, we must talk about the balance.

To give you a better understanding of what “balance” is, I would like to quote “Balance determines whether photo is pleasing and harmonious to look at or rather uncomfortable and unresolved”.

There are way too many factors that can balance or misbalance the image. Color, size, texture and intensity of subjects are only few of them. A sense of balance is something photographers learn and practice until it becomes their sixth sense. Even though it seems like it’s solely the photographer’s responsibility, having some understanding of balance will help the stylist in making correct decisions during the art direction process.

I would like to share a concept that I have recently come up with. I call it a concept of Accents and Supporting Elements.

I describe Accents as elements being immediately spotted by just glancing at the photograph. It may be a wardrobe piece, makeup element, interesting texture, shape, prop etc. Usually accents are aimed to enrich the photograph and add context to the look, helping the “storytelling”. Supporting elements are those that are aimed to minimize the distraction from and emphasize the point of attention. Lets agree that our point of attention is always a hairstyle.

Lets take a look at examples….

The first one is amazing Karolin Wolter, gracing the cover of the German Vogue. Hair by Natalie Franz, photographed by Lado Alexi. One of the undeniable accents, noticed immediately is Karolin’s hair, Meanwhile, the wardrobe is full of detail and is very interesting on its own. Color is the reason why attire full of accessories do not take over. Serving as a great accent, corset perfectly blends with the skin tone and the background, aimed not to distract, but rather emphasize.

The next example is avery intriguing work created by Norwegian Avant grade hairstylist Thomas Mørk and photographed by Ruben Kristiansen.

Just by glancing at this photo we understand that it is totally about the hairstyle. The rest of the elements serve as the support system. Black shimmery fabric draping beautifully mimics curvy lines of the hairstyle and along with the black gloves serves as the supporting element. Black netting on the model’s face is aimed to juxtapose the hairstyle with its texture. The vibrant red color turns the dress into an undeniable accent, but it is smartly balanced with the blue-ish background, according to the complementary colors rule.

You can see my using this approach in a collaborative work with Cameron LeSiege . I wanted to mimic the hairstyle colors with the wardrobe. A neutral grey background was aimed to emphasize the bright red. The necklace serves as a nice little accent, but because of its color it serves as the supporting element at the same time.

Analyze your current work determining accents and supporting elements. If you are having a shoot this week, try to limit your color choice to approximately 3 colors and build the look utilizing items of those 3 colors.