You don’t take a photograph, you make it. ~ Ansel Adams
Do you ever feel as though the photographs you take are too jam packed and almost like you can’t breathe looking at them?
There’s a reason for that. Subjects with eyes such as people and animals need room to gaze or look around them. For example, when a person is facing the camera and looking to the photographers left, place them on the right of the frame. In the photograph above, the couple was looking off into the distance so I gave them plenty of room to look left, right, and straight ahead. Objects that move such as bicycles, cars, and trains, need space to move forward or in to.
Take a look at this swan picture. You can see that it’s crammed into the frame and creates a negative tension within the viewer. Without even knowing it, you feel as though the swan is stuck and has nowhere to go.
The photograph below is much better as the swan has room to move forward or even paddle around. I like to think of this as “active space”. (If you read my previous post on the Rule of Thirds, you will also see that the composition is such that the swan is placed at the point where the vertical and horizontal lines meet in the bottom, right third of the frame.)
Here are some more examples of giving subjects space resulting in images that are more pleasing to the eye.
Remember to think about “active space” as well as the background and what is behind your subject as you plan your images. Keeping this in mind when you set up your composition helps to create more depth and balance in your photographs.
Before you press the shutter, think about the composition and give your objects plenty of room to move.
Composition guidelines are helpful to photographers as they go about the process of picture making. The basic tips I’ve posted can be useful as starting points and to stimulate our thinking. We are free to create and express our vision in ways that move and inspire us.