Tension is important in art, sports, and life. Tension in sports and life build strength, endurance, and character. In art and photography, tension is right up there with great light and fearless composition in importance as to how the viewer’s eye is grabbed, held or moved, within or out of a frame. Tension is often one of the catalysts for effective composition.
Often tension is created by imbalance. Imbalance throws us off, makes us look. It induces a feeling, a reaction, within our emotional response to a visual. The opposite, being balance within composition, kind of lays there, dying for lack of movement, often static. Tension can also be oddity, slightly uncomfortable, like something is “off”. I feel that the right kind of “off” is actually “on”. It works. It attracts, sometimes distracts, but always adds movement, direction, energy, and an opportunity for psychological exchange within a frame. A certain amount of uncomfortable in a photograph is good, arresting, makes one feel something, keeps the brain involved.
Tension can create visual design interest, creating a feeling, a vibe. The wrong kind of tension can be distracting to a fault, lead you in the wrong direction, or prevent you from moving within the frame. How one uses the element of tension adds a controlled dynamic quality to your image, influences composition and eye movement, while often adding a subtle psychological influence. If all of this is foreign to you as an artist, you are too in balance ! Try leaning to the left a little more and put some tension and imbalance in your art and your life.