FFC: All or Nothing

In Sarah’s Friendly Friday Challenge, she asks about photographic preferences on All or Nothing images.

Filling the Frame with Something

When composing a picture, I always try to fill the frame. It’s a good rule to follow whether it’s a picture of one subject or many. In the context of Sarah’s post however, I think she is referring to pictures which are either close-ups or images of one subject.

In general, I stay away from macros or extreme close-ups. It seems to me that macro photography is almost always about flowers and insects, subjects that I rarely shoot. My one exception would be explorations in abstraction, where I’m less concerned about subject matter and more about textures and patterns.

Like these two shots which were an exercise in capturing atypical photos of a garden pool.

In street portraiture I normally take portraits of one subject only and for me, filling the frame is all about engagement. Engagement is usually captured by direct eye contact between the subject with the camera. I like photos where people know or seem to know, that the camera is there and they continue to act normal. Good portraits are those which hint at a person’s character, through either expression, features or emotion.

But engagement can go beyond the eyes. Just like in dance or performance art, actions demonstrate character. Like in this second photo where the man holds out his ring. Look at this, he seems to say. Look at the heavy ornateness of the ring. Look at his manicured hands and the delicate extension of his pinky. Look at his multiple rings, one on his index finger, one for his middle finger and another on his third.

Filling the Frame with Nothing

Negative space refers to the empty space around a subject or between subjects. It is not necessarily a blank or nothing space. Maybe monotonous would be a better word. Negative space is filled with undifferentiated content that doesn’t distract the eye.

My favorite example is this picture. The expanse of blue seems to accentuate the man and child to the right. Notice his eyes looking directly at the camera. But the blue also enhances the window, which in turn echoes the blue wall and the pattern of the man’s shorts.

Probably a more obvious example is this one. The flat white walls emphasize the straight lines and shapes in this scene. It’s a harsh white and sterile image that’s relieved by the two figures walking down the stairs. The picture was taken at MOMA and I’m sure there was architectural oversight in the design of the wall and the plate glass windows on the stairwell.

Here’s another photo from the museum. I like it because of the negative black space to the right. The solidness of the wall is the only buttress against imminent disaster. Everytime I look at this picture I feel queasy. A full size helicopter suspended over unsuspecting patrons seems blatantly wrong. In my opinion, this isn’t art. It’s a tribute to structural engineering πŸ˜‰

Many thanks to Sarah for hosting this challenge and being an enthusiastic co-host for Friendly Friday. I’ve enjoyed her lessons and views on photography and I’m sure I’ll continue to learn from her long after Friendly Friday is rounded up.

A reminder that there’s still another week of Sarah’s challenge, where you can share your thoughts on All or Nothing compositions. Remember to post and comment back to Sarah’s original challenge post.

Next Friday, August 26 Amanda who is the OG of Friendly Friday will host our final challenge. Stay tuned at Something to Ponder About. It’s going to be an auspicious!


  1. Great examples Sandy, and my favourites are your favourites – the blue wall (perfect timing as the man turned his head!) and the two black and white shots of the man with the rings. I always love your street portraiture, as you know πŸ˜€

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