When I first started on my photography journey I quickly became obsessed with learning compositional techniques. (Thank you Clickin Moms!!) One of my favorite techniques that I learned was how to utilize Negative Space.
Negative Space, simply put, is an area of, “empty,” space around the main subject ( or the positive space, if you will) I fell in love with this technique because it is so very pleasing to the eye; it’s simple and uncluttered, yet at the same time it can add drama and intensity to an image.
Now, I am a stay at home mom of nine children and I homeschool them all; and though we are involved in various outside activities, the majority of the time we are at home. Being at home a lot and with such a large family, it can be quite daunting to keep the home uncluttered. This quickly became a source of discouragement for me as I craved the simple and uncluttered look of negative space and yet my home was anything but uncluttered!
Who can feel me here? I bet a lot of you can and I do not want you to get discouraged and give up; we must pick up our cameras every day if we desire to perfect this craft!! I would love to be a source of encouragement for you all so here is a little list of a few things that I do to create negative space in my messy home and I hope they can be a source of inspiration to you!
Now, I have to say there isn’t anything spectacular about what I am about to say, it’s actually pretty simple, but sometimes we just need to be smacked in the face with simple, am I right? Ok, here we go!
IGNORE THE MESS: This is really the biggest “tip” of all. Basically it boils down to this…. if you are passionate about photography, make up your mind that you will not let anything stop you from this art. So what if your house is a wreck! Get that thought out of your brain, do not allow yourself to be stressed about it and pick up your camera!!
2. FIND & COMPOSE: Find a wall, floor, ceiling or room you love with beautiful light and set up your composition. I love creative crops, using the rule of thirds, or shooting from above.
3. REMOVE: the clutter. Now this seems kind of silly to say since I just said above to ignore the mess, but what I meant by ignore was more about mindset and not allowing it to keep you feeling discouraged. Of course for negative space imagery a lot of times you will need to remove some amount of clutter, but all is not lost if you can’t get rid of it all because you can…(see #4 and #5 below)
4. CHANGE PERSPECTIVE: Move up, down, sideways, whatever you need to do to try and block out that unwanted clutter.
5. UTILIZE CREATIVE EXPOSURE: Creative exposure is a God send in messy homes.When your subject is placed in the right kind of light ie… a harsh pocket of light, your camera’s settings will need to be adjusted drastically in order not to blow out the image. You will need a low ISO, a fast shutter speed and probably a narrow aperture. This is what is know as, “exposing for the highlights.” What this does is create the right exposure for anything that is placed in the light, but everything else will be hidden away in the dark. Mess, instantly disappears.
6. FINISH WITH POST PROCESSING MAGIC: If all else fails, or just to add the finishing touch….darken those shadows and blacks in the basic panel in LR and possibly even in the tone curve. You may also need to use the brush tool to burn, or use the spot removal tool to get rid of unwanted clutter in an image.
Below are some of my favorite images utilizing negative space, and they were all done within a messy home utilizing different perspectives, kicking junk out of the way, utilizing creative exposure and finishing with some post processing magic.