Simplification OR Negative Space?  Is it different?

Purple Petaled Flower on White Surface

Simplification and negative space are two terms that are closely related. You can’t talk about one and ignore the other. But what exactly is simplification? And how do you explain negative space? Ted Forbes shares his take on the subject:


Simplification denotes reducing the elements in your composition down to a bare minimum—just what is necessary to create the composition. That entails removing unnecessary elements. In a way that is also minimalism. But simplification and minimalism are technically not the same thing. Simplification is specifically about removing unnecessary elements.

Michael Kenna

Simplification is technically harder to achieve in photography—especially in outdoor photography—because it entails eliminating elements that are already there.


Negative space refers to the empty space around your subject. Consider it “breathing space.”

Michael Kenna

Just like with simplification, you don’t want extraneous elements around the subject, because that again attracts attention. But you can use elements like the sky or the ground to emphasize the subject.

As photographers, we spend a lot of time deciding what to put into a composition. But next time you’re out taking photos, dedicate some time to considering what should be left out of the frame.


When looking for more examples of photos for each of the two types of pictures, here is what I came up with from off the internet:


Green Succulent Plant in Terrarium


black wallpaper, cosmos, full moon


White Headphones


Negative space:


Free stock photo of light, dawn, landscape, nature


Macbook Pro on Top of Brown Desk


See the source image


That should give you some help in understanding simplification and negative space.  Try this type of photography.  Perhaps you have seen this type of photography and was “awed” by the photo.  Not an easy one to do.  But, it is a great art to accomplish this.



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