Based in Los Angeles and Washington DC, Justine Ungaro has been photographing weddings and portraits in her own clean, classic style since 2003. This is her first guest blog post on Tiffinbox.
“The pictures are so small on the page and there is too much white space”.
Every time I receive one of these emails, I die a little bit inside. You know the ones I'm talking about because you all get them too. Usually from the mother of the bride or groom about her album design that you labored over for hours. Sometimes even from the bride or groom themselves. And as much as it just drives me crazy it's really not their fault. As photographers we are highly visual people. We notice the tiniest nuances and subtleties of light. We stare at compositions and dissect how we coulda, shoulda done it better. We are very hard on ourselves.
But sometimes we need to remember that our clients (usually) are just not as visually sophisticated as we are. Sometimes we need to educate them, try to change their minds, show them that we know what is best for them. And sometimes it's better to just give in. It is their album after all. But rarely do I give in without a little bit of a fight. I want my white space. But whether or not I win or lose any particular album battle is beside the point. It brings up a very good question. Why is negative space important?
Now although I do design albums, I don't consider myself a designer. Still, despite being a non-designer I do try to incorporate what little I do know about good design into my albums…and that is balance, tension and flow. I want to lead my viewer across the page in a way that makes sense. I also want to make them work for it just a little bit and I want the pages to feel nice and balanced. Generally this is not accomplished by just cramming tons of images onto a page. Simple and clean is elegant, sophisticated and classic.
Why else is negative space important to us? If you look around at advertisements for various products, you can tell immediately which ones are cheap, mainstream or just unabashedly pedestrian. They are the ads that are full of stuff: pictures, clunky logos, too many fonts & colors; they look messy. If you look at advertisements for luxury products or services, they are almost always clean and simple and full of what? That's right, negative space.
So I know that we're all in different positions in our various markets. Not everyone serves a high-end market. But if you do or if you're a social climber, consider the types of visual stimulus that appeals to your ideal clients. Speak to them non-verbablly through your branding and through your albums. If you want to reach a wealthier clientele, consider whether or not you're using the power of negative space to your advantage.