(click on photos to enlarge)
There are those that might look at the images above and ask why I left so much space around each subject.
I often shoot images where the subject, human or inanimate, is significantly smaller than the empty space around them. I define “empty space” as either the absence of everything (for example, a completely white area), or a continuation of the subject’s environment. This uninhabited area can greatly affect how the subject is perceived by the viewer.
“Empty space” is not wasted space. I’ve heard it suggested that photographers should crop out the barren area of an image, thereby making the subject more important. For certain pictures, this might be a good idea. But for lots of images, this misses the true intent of empty space. People making suggestions like this, I believe, are unaware of how nothingness can affect an image. Empty space can, for example, emphasize the picture’s location, help define the image’s mood, and lead the viewer’s eye directly to the person or object. To that last point, empty space lets the viewer know precisely where their eyes need to go, thus actually increasing the subject’s importance.
The empty space must be set up with the same care that goes into posing the person or setting up the object. One or more of the following must be done to anything found in that empty space that should not be there:
I’ve seen and made pictures where the size of the subject, relative to the total area, is very small - the empty space takes up the majority of the image’s real estate. If done well, having the subject so small in the picture actually delivers a lot more artistic impact. It seems that as the object gets smaller, its importance grows.
In the photographs shown above, I believe that negative space greatly enhanced some rather simple setups.
(click on photos to enlarge)
I believe achieving accurate portrait skin color is not always necessary. In fact, if I’ve taken a few hundred pictures of the subject (which I often do during a photo shoot), I’d find having every one of them a “normal” skin color to be quite boring. Changing skin color can often dramatically improve even the most ordinary photograph. It's one of those transformations that can make an image "pop".
Additionally, changing the color can change the mood of the photo. For example, blue can imply coolness, sadness, melancholy, or depression; red can denote rage, danger, heat, love, or passion; yellow can symbolize sickness, glory, splendor, or power.
My color changes are almost always done in postproduction. I primarily use Adobe Camera Raw, the program that is included with Adobe Photoshop. In addition, I may add a few more changes using Nik Software.
For no specific reason. I like the idea of initially viewing the image with its normal colors. This is quickly done in Adobe Camera Raw by clicking on something in the picture that’s white, gray, or black, using the White Balance Tool. Or, if I’ve taken a few pictures of the subject holding a gray or white card, I’ll click on that instead. This should render all the colors as normal or something close to it. It’s at this point that I may start thinking about playing around with the color.
The six pictures above are just a few of those I've colored over the years. I think my impetus for doing so was thinking they needed something more to save them. In other words, they seemed a bit ordinary to me. The color change on some is subtle and more extreme on others. But, for me, they are far more dynamic this way than if no coloring had been added.