Minimalism + Negative Space | Past Work Showcase | Michigan, New Mexico, and more!

This month's theme for the p52 project I have undertaken is Minimalism and Negative Space. Negative space is one of my absolute favorite composition techniques, and I have many favorite photos from previous years that I have been dying to share this month - except the whole point of a p52 is that the photos are supposed to be new. Since I won't be sharing any of these on social media as a part of my p52 project, I thought I would share them here!

Negative space, in a nutshell, is the framing of your subject (the "positive" space) with an ample amount of the subject's surroundings to create a dramatic effect and draw the eye to the subject. The negative space used is often, but not always, a consistent texture in order to remove distractions from the subject. If any of you are familiar with the "Rule of Thirds", negative space and the rule of thirds are related in the way that squares and rectangles are related: all squares are rectangles, but not all rectangles are squares. Negative Space often (but not always) employs the Rule of Thirds, but employing the Rule of Thirds by no means employs Negative Space. I like to use Negative Space to emphasize scale - as such, you will likely notice a pattern in the images I have shared below! For those who are interested in the concept of negative space, here are a few articles that give more insight into the concept:

  • https://photographylife.com/negative-space-in-photography
  • https://www.colesclassroom.com/negative-space/
  • http://www.photographymad.com/pages/view/understanding-and-using-negative-space-in-photography

I think one of the big sources of my attraction to negative space comes from growing up in a place where you can see for miles and miles in any direction. In southern New Mexico, the only thing that impedes your view of the horizon in any direction is a set of mountains, something I took for granted before I moved to densely wooded upstate New York. No joke, I would have friends send me pictures of the sky back home - I just missed it. You can see why...

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It's funny how we rarely question what we are raised with until we are removed from our surroundings. When I worked for a local custom builder here in Michigan, the owners asked me what my favorite architectural style was - and the obvious answer was Spanish revival. Of course, stucco homes would disintegrate in Michigan, and no one here has even heard of saltillo tile. Since then, I have tried to make time when I am back in New Mexico to document the local architectural features and decor style, like the integration of tile and hand-painted signage into building exteriors. I have promised myself that one day I will own a home where a bold bougainvillea plant will grace the exterior and my cactus collection will expand beyond the 2" potted plants I have in my kitchen.


Speaking of New Mexico, I also took hiking for granted. And I really mean hiking, none of this hilly trek nonsense. Bring on the mountains! Even San Diego had no problem providing ample opportunities for a steep incline up a rocky mountain from time to time (although these two images were taken in New Mexico). If these photos are too long to be viewed in your browser, click on them to open a smaller-but-complete version.


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I guess the good new though is that Michigan also has a sky - but the cloud coverage is a little heavier, as you can see in these two photos. I can work with it, as long as I get away to a sunny place like Florida every now and again... (I'm counting the days, I get southern sunshine in less than a week!) Does the beach vibe get any stronger than a VW van parked in front of a beach house?


Negative space isn't just for landscapes though, I enjoy using it in my personal documentary work (above) as well as with couples shoots. A few of my absolute favorites using negative space are from my wedding work with Oden + Janelle this past year (see this one and that one), but my still-not-blogged session with Nicky and Blake features some pretty great buildings over in Bay City. Also, are they a good looking couple or what?!

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If you're still reading, thanks for sticking that one out! I'll be back with a recap of my February p52 shots and personal work in a few weeks!