Gestalt laws and principles


  1. Law of Proximity. Visual elements are grouped in the mind according to how close they are to each other.
  2. Law of Similarity. Elements that are similar in some way, by form or content, tend to be grouped.
  3. Law of Closure. Elements roughly arranged together are seen to complete an outline shape. The mind seeks completeness.
  4. Law of Simplicity. The mind tends towards visual explanations that are simple; simple lines, curves, and shapes are preferred, as is symmetry and balance.
  5. Law of Common Fate. Grouped elements are assumed to move together and behave as one.
  6. Law of Good Continuation. Similar to the above, this states that the mind tends to continue shapes and lines beyond their ending points .
  7. Law of Segregation. In order for a figure to be perceived, it must stand out from its background. Figure-ground images exploit the uncertainty of deciding which is the figure and which is the background, for creative interest.

‘Grouping plays a large part in Gestalt thinking, and this is known as “chunking.”


  1.  Emergence. Parts of an image that do not contain sufficient information to explain them suddenly pop out as a result of looking long enough and finally grasping the sense .
  2.  Reification. The mind fills in a shape or area due to inadequate visual input. This includes closure (above).
  3. Multistability. ln some instances, when there are insufficient depth clues, objects can be seen to invert spontaneously. This has been explolted more in art (M. C. Escher, Salvador Dali) than in photography.
  4. Invariance. Objects can be recognized regardless of orientation, rotation, aspect, scale, or other factors.

Michael Freeman The Photographer’s Eye p38