On embracing the negative (space)

On embracing the negative (space)

By |2011-10-17T22:10:59+00:00Oct 14th, 2011|

We love more. In general, especially in the US, we want lots. Super-sized. Instant. On-demand. Fill 'er up. Git 'er done. It all leads to so much convolution.

These thoughts have been on my mind a lot lately as I am preparing to move cross-country. I look at my possessions. More than I need. So much more. No one needs a garbage can with a motorized door that swings open when it senses motion near it. No one. So, I am hoping to take this opportunity to embrace the negative space of life. Learn to live in the less is more realm.

Now, there is an obvious parallel between this line of thinking in life and in photography. Why cram? Why do you need to fill the frame with so much stuff? The eyes want to enjoy. They don't want to get fatigued. Give the eyes what they want – nothing more and nothing less. Render your images (and perhaps your life) down to simply what is needed to convey your happiness and inspiration.

I'm finding that the older I get, the less I want and the happier I am about it.

In album Pic Picks Over The Years (75 photos)

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  1. Miel Mora October 14, 2011 at 7:10 pm - Reply

    OMG is beautiful photo

    Overall rating

  2. Lisa Borel October 14, 2011 at 7:12 pm - Reply

    The last time I moved cross country I estimated that it cost about a dollar a pound to ship my possessions. That was an eye opener. I'm sure moving costs have gone up a bit since then.

  3. Hans-Juergen Schaefer October 14, 2011 at 7:13 pm - Reply

    Good thinking Brian! Less is more!;-)

  4. Dennis Rivera October 14, 2011 at 7:13 pm - Reply

    Great message. Great image. You're definitely moving to the right place.

  5. Michael Sutton October 14, 2011 at 7:13 pm - Reply

    excellent minimalistic photo, superb in black and white

  6. Thomas Wawra October 14, 2011 at 7:14 pm - Reply


  7. Andrea Cioni October 14, 2011 at 7:16 pm - Reply

    lovely "zen" thought.

  8. arnab nandi October 14, 2011 at 7:20 pm - Reply

    hmmmm……nice thought

  9. Brian Matiash October 14, 2011 at 7:23 pm - Reply

    +Lisa Borel Yeah, it'll cost me about $3k to move the minimum of 2100 lbs.

  10. Michelle Hedstrom October 14, 2011 at 7:31 pm - Reply

    If you want to get rid of some of your camera gear to maintain that negative space, I'd be happy to take it off your hands. I do shoot Canon too! :)

  11. Brian Matiash October 14, 2011 at 7:36 pm - Reply

    +Michelle Hedstrom You'll be the first person I call when I reach that impasse.

  12. Sebastian Kobs October 14, 2011 at 7:40 pm - Reply

    Negative space is, for me at least, one of the most powerful things in composition.

  13. Jorn Kremers October 14, 2011 at 7:42 pm - Reply

    Perfect post for this quote: "Perfection is achieved, not when there is nothing more to add, but when there is nothing left to take away." Saint-Exupéry

  14. Nicole S. Young October 14, 2011 at 7:52 pm - Reply

    Minimalism FTW! :)

  15. Ivan Boden October 14, 2011 at 8:07 pm - Reply

    Woa, a motorized garbage can?

  16. William Rainey October 14, 2011 at 8:17 pm - Reply

    I love the beautiful simplicity of this image and your thoughts +Brian Matiash . As I get older, I find that I desire fewer things and more authentic relationships in my life.

  17. Chris LaCour October 14, 2011 at 8:29 pm - Reply

    Words to live by, +Brian Matiash .

  18. Brian Matiash October 14, 2011 at 8:38 pm - Reply

    +Ivan Boden Yupper, Brookstone's finest. :)

  19. Ernst Spath October 14, 2011 at 8:53 pm - Reply

    good Minimalism :)

  20. Joseph Schadler October 14, 2011 at 9:11 pm - Reply

    Excellent advice. When I was working in desktop publishing many years ago we called the urge to clutter up every spare bit of space "blancophobia."

  21. Stuart Sipahigil October 14, 2011 at 9:14 pm - Reply

    Interestingly, at least to me, is that while I want my life to be simpler, I want my photography to be more complex–or to at least convey more complex ideas. A simpler life allows me to focus on and think more deeply about my photography, which I hope leads to better photographs.

  22. Brian Matiash October 14, 2011 at 9:20 pm - Reply

    +Stuart Sipahigil That's just crazy talk.

  23. Eric Leslie October 14, 2011 at 9:23 pm - Reply

    Sage words of wisdom Brian. Now only if I had a automatic trash can…

  24. Stuart Sipahigil October 14, 2011 at 9:23 pm - Reply

    +Brian Matiash It's what happens when you get old.

  25. Robert Martin October 14, 2011 at 10:48 pm - Reply

    OMG, a motorized garbage can. My life is SO empty without one, how can i go on without one???……….LoL

  26. Josh Wardell October 14, 2011 at 11:40 pm - Reply

    Hah, glad to hear you still have that trash can! Of course it naturally is full of negative space, and I bet there is no way you leave it behind.

  27. Anne McKinnell October 15, 2011 at 12:45 am - Reply

    I have recently come to appreciate the joys of needing less. Nice analogy to minimalist photography.

  28. Keenen Brown October 15, 2011 at 12:46 am - Reply

    Nicely done Brian!

  29. D. Wheaton October 15, 2011 at 2:16 am - Reply

    I like your metaphor today +Brian Matiash . However, My brain is having difficulty with the concept. 1) it's a motorized garbage can (LOL). 2.) Do we not add "stuff" to add flavor. ex salt in mashed potatoes. I guess what I'm saying in being minimal is a tool in the box not a way of life.

  30. murphyz October 17, 2011 at 2:23 pm - Reply

    You don’t get much for your money when you live in central London, so when I made the decision to move in I had to take a studio which is meant getting rid of a lot of my excess. I said goodbye to a lot of CDs, DVDs and books mostly, as the shelves that housed these took up a lot of space that I didn’t have. Now I just don’t buy those types of things, which is fine with the way technology is going – books on the iPad, music via mp3 and DVDs…well I’ve kinda stopped watching films now as my time is spent on other things. I am seeing a small collection of photography gear piling up in whichever space it finds…but that’s okay. Saying that…and as I look around my flat…I seem to like cramming as much as possible into such a small place – and perhaps that is echoed in my photography.

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