To make better street photos, integrate more negative space.
Why negative space?
Negative space gives room for your photo to breathe. By having more negative space, you give more attention and focus to your subjects in the frame.
This also works well when photographing objects. See how much darkness and shadows you can integrate into your frame.
Negative space in street photography tips:
- Use -1 or -2 exposure compensation when shooting street photography, to darken the background, to integrate more negative space.
- Leave a little bit of negative space in front of your subjects to move into. This is a good technique for leading lines, and the “fishing technique” in street photography.
- Use a flash to darken the background.
- When you’re shooting a scene, seek to subtract, not to add to the frame.
- When you’re shooting try to make sure the background is simple and clean.
- Start off with a black background, and wait for your subjects to enter the frame.
1. Use negative space to your benefit
When you’re shooting with a wide-angle lens like a 28mm in street photography, and can’t get any closer to your subject, put negative space below or above them — and fill the frame with negative space.
For example, this is how this composition looks when abstracted:
2. Negative space around your subject
In this photo of a mans hand, see how I integrated the Golden rectangle composition (drawn in red lines).
Also, note the negative space around his hands (with red blocks), and the negative space on the right and left (yellow, blue):
3. Make the eyes of your subject direct the eyes of your viewer
To lead the eyes of your subject to different parts of the frame, have them track the eyes of your subject in the frame.
For example, look at this picture of Cindy looking up. It makes the viewer of the picture also look up (the same direction as Cindy):
4. Negative space and flash
Examples of photos with flash, to add negative space in the background:
5. Allow your subject to exit the frame
Cindy is walking left, and you can see it outlined in red.
This adds more dynamic tension to your photo —there is the anticipation of Cindy going to leave the frame.
Gestalt theory: we want to see “continuance”— we want to see the movement of the subject to continue and finish.
Negative space applies not just to photography, but life.
In photography and life, seek to subtract, not add.
When in doubt, subtract.
EMPTY YOURSELF to fill yourself up.