The art of kindly vacancies


This photograph, taken in my garden, demonstrates a style of composition that I often adopt. Particularly when shooting insects, I strive to create simple images, with a bold use of negative space, to show that the subject is small but its world is big. As a viewer of images, I enjoy compositions that are pared down to the minimal, devoid of distracting elements. They are such a direct communication between the photographer and the viewer. At the same tme, they give space for the imagination to become involved.
Once again I find myself calling on John Ruskin as authority:
“It is a great advantage to the picture that it need not present too much at once, and that what it does present may be so chosen and ordered as not only to be more easily seized, but to give the imagination rest, and, as it were, places to lie down and stretch its limbs in; kindly vacancies, beguiling it back into action, with pleasant and cautious sequence of incident; all jarring thoughts being excluded, all vain redundance denied, and all just and sweet transition permitted.” (Modern Painters, Vol III, Part IV, Ch. X)

I have put together a small gallery of images by other photographers, in many different genres, that all display this approach to composition, masters of the art of kindly vacancies. Click here if you’d like to see.

6 thoughts on “The art of kindly vacancies

  1. Perfect composition.
    And thanks for the link to your chosen images. I think my favourite (and they are all fabulous) is The Eye of the Storm, it so beautifully lit.

    • Thank you, Karen. I made that gallery a long time ago. It was fun to visit it again and to realise that I still like all the images just as much as I did then.

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