observed by Diane » photo journal for those who enjoy vignettes of an ordinary life

Negative Space

Negative space, when referring to art and photography, is generally defined as, “the space around the subject of an image.” That means the ’empty’ space around your main subject. It’s a shame it’s referred to as “negative” since it is a very important component of the whole image. The negative space actually enhances or makes the image successful.


Those of you who have read my most recent posts, are aware that I’ve taken a solid step back from too much time on the Internet while stepping back into spending time with real life. It has been like that spruce cone in this image, being allowed to ‘be’ in the real world allowing my best parts to emerge by the negative space surrounding me (which enhances its main subject: me). I’m not referring to the physical me, but the inner me.

Since my mother died nearly two years ago, I plummeted into a deep depression and had to work extremely hard trying to scratch my way back to some new normal. I’m still working at it though I’ve finally emerged from the depths and am settled on the cool snow, waiting for the sun to melt the rest of the chill away. During this time, because I live in such a remote place and have so little contact with others (often going weeks — yes weeks — without seeing another human being other than my husband), that struggle came with other side effects. I lost the desire to write and began to seek creativity in new or renewed ways. I also turned to the Internet community to replace the missing human component in my life. But I realized, it was the human face-to-face contact and energy of real-life I was really needing to help me move along on this journey.

Picking up photography, after years of denying myself that pleasure, has helped me see my tiny secluded world with a kaleidoscopic view. I sought out the positive space (that’s what the focal point or main subject is referred to in art and photography). All too often the negative space surrounding me was cluttered. In clearing out the clutter, I discovered one great solution to finding the right kind of negative space: Shutter Sisters (an inspiring community of creative women photographers). The negative space of using Shutter Sisters as my inspiration and my connection to the real world (since I live such a secluded life), like a good photograph, has been an important component in discovering my own positive space.

Although I seldom spend time with humans (though I would dearly love to do so), like an emerging photographer working with limited tools & landscape, I’ve truly worked hard to move forward, develop, and be creative. I’ve taken photos of ornaments, forks, glasses, plates, snow and more snow, horses, dogs, birds, twigs, bark, fences, barbed wire, toes, flowers, dandelions, food, corners of my home, and so on. I’ve created where I sit, where I am stuck, yet have seen so much through my lens, developing and growing as I went along.

Yes I do hate where I live and how I live but the only way to change either of those would be to leave my husband and I have absolutely no intention of ever doing that. So instead, I endure and seek out the kind of negative space (that enhancing kind of space) that is available to me.

If you’re feeling stuck, lacking creativity or inspiration, dig deeper. Perhaps you need to move away from the computer and the Internet or perhaps you need to find one or two very selective spots on the Internet (as I have done with Shutter Sisters). Seeking out the right kind of negative space to enhance us (the main subject) is up to us as individuals. Where we focus is just as important as it is in photography. Finding and using the right kind of negative space to surround us also is as important as it is in photography.

“When one door of happiness closes, another opens, but often we took so long at the closed door that we do not see the one that has been opened up for us.” ~ Helen Keller

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