5 Tips on Using Negative Space for Better Portrait Photographs (VIDEO)

One characteristic of great portrait photographers is the way they employ empathy to develop a strong rapport with their subjects, and the New York-based visual artist known as Shotti is a great example. He says, “My process relies heavily on communicating with my subjects on an emotional level, and through that connection I am able to get an insight into our shared experiences.”

In the powerful video below from B&H Photo Video, Shotti shares another of his favorite portrait techniques; namely, using negative space for compelling composition.  As a visual storyteller, he says he finds this graphic style particularly helpful in communicating the backstory of his images.

Those of you who prefer quick and concise tutorials will really like this one, as Shotti provides five tips in barely three minutes for accentuating portrait subjects through the use of negative space. In a way, it’s all about a clean, minimalistic approach that avoids cluttering your images with extraneous details that distract from your message.

Shotti begins by urging you to avoid shallow depth of field with this portrait technique. He explains that it’s difficult to emphasize negative space unless your primary subject and the background are both relatively sharp. He also discusses the importance of paying close attention to the balance and proximity of your subject in relation to the background, and how doing so will maximize the effect you’re trying to create.

Avoiding distracting background elements is important to all forms of photography, and Shotti demonstrates why this rule is an essential component of utilizing negative space. His last two tips are equally compelling, especially when it comes to communicating emotions like emptiness and loneliness, or in the opposite case, a feeling of abundance.

After watching the video check out Shotti’s website for a look at his imagery, and the B&H Photo Video YouTube channel for more great ideas.