If you’ve ever followed me around while I am scooter riding, you will see this mud flap staring back at you. Like Marvin the Martian, when I am framing pictures in-camera or cropping in-software, GIVE ME SPACE! But, how much space is necessary?
Like any answer to such a question, it is a path sprinkled with personal bias and oft-ignored rules and guidelines. In the world of still photography, I have a few principles I like to espouse-unless of course, they just don’t work.
I recently photographed model Ginger Ann on the very same scooter which sports the “Give Me Space” mud flap. Let’s talk about how much space to give Ginger.
- I have entered my off-center horizontal phase as I try for a more cinematic feel to some of my studio images. That accounts for the space you see on the right. Too much for you? That’s ok. I might like a little more.
- Space above the head is another story. In my still images where I have more than just a head and neck, I like to give me space. How much? 1/2 the height of the head is about right. If I were shooting full body, I would probably go a full head. Were I shooting tightly, probably 1/4 to 1/8 of a head-height.
(ed. I should probably write an article about headroom at various body depictions…)
- The mirror on the left needs a similar treatment. The space is horizontal to the mirror so I use the mirror’s width as a bases for determining how much space. Even though the space, when compared to the space above the head isn’t the same (like in a margin) it is comfortably comparable.
- The space is non-existent on the bottom. I have a logo on the front of the scooter with which to deal. How much space does it need? Generally, I look at the widest part of the letter stroke and try to leave that much space.
- The figure is facing left but looking right. The eyes are rolled hard to the side. Aside from my offset image period in which I am currently immersed, the space needs to be there for Ginger’s sidelong gaze.
The final crop is a result of careful in-camera framing and post-processing cropping. When I frame an image, I keep these rules of space in mind and give myself a little wiggle room. I give myself space so that I can tweak a crop a little bit more later on.
I don’t know if you noticed or not, but the Photographer can be seen in the reflection on the scooter’s cowl just below and to the right of the head light. I left that in deliberately so you could see that, even in reflection, I am giving space.
Rikk Flohr © 2011