In painting, there’s a blank canvas to work with so the painter has the freedom to create an image from scratch. The photographer, in contrast, starts with a canvas that’s already full. Therefore, if the challenge for the painter is to fill the canvas, the photographer’s objective is to empty it.
This interesting view on photographic composition is a useful tool regardless of the genre and style you’re going for as an artist. Ray Scott’s Visual Art Photography Tutorial video below shows us how we can simplify our photographic canvas to create stunning images.
According to Ray, adopting a minimalist approach by utilizing negative space is one way to achieve simplicity in your images. This is easier to do in a studio, as you can control the environment to make your subject stand out. It’s a common technique in minimalist photography to use plain backgrounds, controlled lighting, and a good amount of blank space to emphasize a subject.
However, Ray also notes that it’s important to know how to clear the photographic canvas of distractions when you’re shooting outdoors. This is particularly challenging when you’re going for a simplified look in your landscapes, nature shots, and even street photos to some extent. Based on his examples in the video, one way you can achieve this is to train your eyes to recognize scenes that you can cut down to minimal elements by simply changing your perspective and making use of the negative space around them.
Screenshot image taken from the video