Sequence viewing > Aesthetics Index - Resource - © Lloyd Godman

Gestalt Theories - Proximity - The visual strategy behind PROXIMITY is DISTANCE and a play of SPATIAL RELATIONSHIPS

Often aspects of the Gestalt principles overlap or there can be several in a single image – We can even read the same visual element in different ways.

Proximity has to do with the visual connections we make with elements on different planes in a picture – this might be two elements that sit side by side, one another the other or one in font of the other. For instance if we have three figures on a plane background we make connections between them – if however the figures are on a more complex background the visual associations might become more intricate. We might have a lamp post directly behind a person we are photographing. In the photograph it might appear as though this grows out of the persons head. This might be interesting and exactly what we are after, but it could also wreck the portrait. The important thing is to learn to see these elements as we frame the scene and select a camera view point that gives us the image we want. This could mean moving to the left so as the lamp post is out of frame or not in line with the persons head -  it might mean aligning the two precisely – It is about visualizing the final photograph and depends upon what your after.


Remember that the largest areas of greatest contrast have the most impact in an image.  

Proximity is where we have two different elements like this black square and red circle adjacent to each other- this example is side by side proximity

In this example the two elements are arranged front to back proximity

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Here we see two quite visually distinct objects - they are different in shape and colour - however on the plain background they visually relate to each other - we tend to link them together - and through the principe of side by side proximity they join to become a larger figure against the darker ground.


Here the proximity of the moon, the fling bat and the bats in the trees relate to each other through proximity -

In this image, Proximity plays a part in suggesting the shape of a bird by combining the closed shapes of the sky and the water .Because the two shapes created by the closed areas are in relative proximity to each other they suggest the overall figure of a bird.



However, if the pond was positioned off to the left we would not make the same visual conclusion.

So proximity is where things are grouped in a way where they visually relate to each other.

Here we see the Chateau visually juxtaposed with the raised planter in what is termed front to back proximity.

Here we see the Chateau visually juxtaposed with the statue in what is termed side by side proximity.

Here the proximity of the stone pillar in the foreground and the tree in the background become one figure through proximity - it appears that the tree is growing from the the pillar. This is termed front to back proximity.


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Here we see an example of front to back proximity -

the structure in the foreground relates visually to the tower in the background.


Here the proximity of the cranes play off each other -

look how the building also interacts as part of this.

then there is also the proximity of the airplane and the top of the lower crane -


In this image the proximity of the 2 trees - the dead ghost tree and the living trees play off each other - while they are both trees visually they are very different

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Here we see 2 main visual elements in the photograph that are quite different - each is in PROXIMITY to each other.


In this image the building and the tip of the triangle of the sculpture are in Proximity
In this image the proximity of the red chairs in the background and the red cube in the foreground relate to each other - while they are both seats visually they are very different.

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