11. Empty Space

Creating large spaces in a photograph is another composition technique which can suggest calm or the isolation of the subject. It’s not commonly used but it can be beautiful and very poetic.

To achieve this we need to isolate the subject of the photo. This can be easily achieved with a solid black or white background. Or it can be a color background, slightly blurred or with such a subtle and repetitive pattern that it actually makes us forget there’s something in the background.

Black or white backgrounds are easy to work with if we can master the control of the lights and we have the necessary lighting equipment.

Once the photograph is shot, we can increase the empty space in the lab by extending the background on one of the sides. This technique works really well in tandem with the Rule of the Gaze and the Rule of Thirds.


Example 1 Empty Space

I took the photograph “Havia una vegada un planeta anomenat terra…” (“Once upon a time there was a planet called Earth…”) in a small studio with a black background. Afterwards I expanded the empty space in the digital lab. And so here we have this little earth in the immensity of outer space. 

Example 2 Empty Space

Lluis Raluy Lluis Ribes i Portillo

"Raluy", Barcelona (2008)

The clown Lluís Raluy in his trench coat, about to start the intermission of the show. A clown, mysterious and introverted. The circus was dark and only a spotlight illuminated Lluís, which allowed me to capture his solitude. 

Example 3 Empty Space

Avioneta Lluis Ribes i Portillo

"Avioneta", Girona (2006)

How does flying in a plane make you feel?

Tutorial developed by Lluís Ribes i Portillo. This work is under license Creative Commons Reconocimiento-NoComercial 3.0 Unported