Wednesday, 23 April 2014

Negative Space/Minimalism

Ma () is a Japanese word which can be roughly translated as "gap", "space", "pause" or "the space between two structural parts." The spatial concept is experienced progressively through intervals of spatial designation. In Japanese, ma, the word for space, suggests interval. It is best described as a consciousness of place, not in the sense of an enclosed three-dimensional entity, but rather the simultaneous awareness of form and non-form deriving from an intensification of vision.

Miss M.



Ma is not something that is created by compositional elements; it is the thing that takes place in the imagination of the human who experiences these elements. Therefore ma can be defined as experiential place understood with emphasis on interval.


People series

Space is substance. Cézanne painted and modeled space. Giacometti  sculpted by "taking the fat off space". Mallarme conceived poems with absences as well as words. Ralph Richardson  asserted that acting lay in pauses... Isaac Stern described music as "that little bit between each note - silences which give the form"...
A moment in time


Nature in black and white

Negative space give strong emphasis to a subject, a mood, emotion and give the viewer more time by removing distractions.

Man versus Nature


I love to compose minimalist images, it starts with my choice of aperture depending on my background, then the placement of my subject. Sometimes it can be challenging.... i.e. surroundings in some nature/urban environments or very busy situations like the Chelsea flower show for instance ....  or simply incorporating natural light and avoiding distracting subjects and placing your subject exactly where you want it.




Nature through seasons also takes breaks, intervals, pauses as to regenerate.

Focus on Spring

"Easy care"


 Negative space can also be a blurry background or textured or using specific colours.

La mer

I don't like to crop images in post-processing, sometimes I haven't got the choice in busy shooting environments or with some subject/s (i.e. cats :)) , especially indoors) but I'll rather frame space as I "see it" at the time of shooting, which I find a lot more interesting, than rely on cropping.

Une histoire d'hiver

Winter light


Upside down (shot from under a large tree)

 As the Ma (negative space in Japanese) definition above (from and linked to Wikipedia), I feel that we need "intervals", space, as to be able to actually see what is really there . "Distractions" as I call them may "blur" our vision, not giving us enough time to see what's meaningful to oneself, at the time of shooting, to emphasise what caught my attention.

Russian Blue

Silent winter

 I have posted in this post, about the sound of snow and the minimalist canvas it creates.

Waiting time

Salisbury Cathedral 

French lavender



L'air du temps

Tree of life

Looking back

If you haven't experimented with minimalist photography yet, don't put your subject in the middle, it would be a waste of space :)

Nature in black and white


Previous post about use of negative space

"There must be an open space in the paintings – an entry space for the viewer, or even for me. Just white space where you can get into it" Norbert Bisky
"The space between the dish and the pitcher, that I paint also" Georges Braque

"It's a transformative experience to simply pause instead of immediately filling up the space. By waiting, we begin to connect with fundamental restlessness as well as fundamental spaciousness" Pema Chodron

 "Always remember that in a painting color has a position, and a place, and it makes space" Stuart Davis

 "Without negative space how would we appreciate the positive in our art and in our lives?" Dyan Law

"The whole arrangement of my picture is expressive. The place occupied by the figures or objects, the empty spaces around them, the proportions, everything plays a part" Henri Matisse 

"Darkness is to space what silence is to sound, i.e. the interval" Marshall McLuhan 

"Negative space takes an ability to 'see' something that is not there - and to provide a new form for what is there" Leith Nance