Empty Space Is Not A Vacuum, But The Life Of Your Image.

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Empty Space Is Not A Vacuum, But The Life Of Your Image.

How does that quote go? “Nature abhors a vacuum.” Or the original from 485BC, “horror vacui”. In art, as in photography, that empty space is filled with so much that an image comes truly alive. It gives your image a voice.

Empty space fills your image with direction; you subject has a place to go, or a place to come from, depending on the position. Consider a runner, a car, a jet. Placed dead center in the image it becomes motionless. We can’t tell much about it. Compose for space in front of it and it is moving into it. There is a sense of future, hope, direction; so many possibilities. Where is it going to? What will happen there?

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Place space behind it. Your subject is fleeing it’s past, escaping, leaving. From where, why? Both places of emptiness create a story, something that engages us . . . makes us wonder . . . makes us connect.

Space can also give us scale. By making your subject smaller, the environment has an impact; it places your subject in context. Where you place your subject speaks to the story. Place them at the base of a huge mountain, they have an obstacle to climb, they have their smallness in the scheme of the things to consider, they have a goal to reach. Or simply this is their world, their environment. Place a farmer to the edge of his vast field. We instantly know so much about him, his life, his world.

Have them rest in the middle of the image, perhaps with a reflection, a mist surrounds and fills the frame. It’s tranquil, it speaks of calm, their calm.

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Space lets the story creep in. Forces us to pause, to explore. At the same moment the scene answers questions while making us wonder about more.

Empty space lets you compose your image. It becomes easy to place key elements in the powerful rule of thirds or the golden rule. That impact point can be filled with the energy of your subject, placed in a space that supports or counterpoints it. You can compound your composition by giving your subject a opposing color to rivet your viewers eyes to them.

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The Yin Yang concept is ideal here. It speaks of balance; fill one area up leave the other area blank. We relate to this nearly historically in our genes. That is why it is so compelling.

There is a value perception to it. You see that very strongly in window displays or advertising images. To appeal to the affluent or/and well educated there is the use of understatement and restraint. There is simplicity and elegance to an image that lets the empty space speak for itself.

Try it, pull your zoom lens way back; let the space into your frame. You will find a breath of fresh air drifting through your images.035 X1101A-0023AS


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