The Negative Space Canvassed by Christoph Hetzmannseder

"On Lines" by Christoph Hetzmannseder

“On Lines” by Christoph Hetzmannseder

Christoph Hetzmannseder has been part of the Shutter Photo community for a long while.  In fact, he’s one of top contributors to our [email protected] Group (on Flickr, of course).  While wearing my critic’s and editor’s hats, I have nothing negative to say about his body of work.  He dabbles in a little bit of everything, from portraiture to architecture, landscapes to street photography, detail work and stock.  He’s a skilled photographer and can easily transition – and thrive – in all of those angles of the photography spectrum.  Like any artform, however, photography is ultimately an emotional experience both for the photographer and for the viewer.  So for myself (no job roles involved), I am constantly looking towards the works of others; for inspiration, for enrichment or just for that emotional connection.  More and more often, I find myself drawn to Christoph’s body of work.  Perhaps the most intriguing of his works are the ones that I will refer to as canvassed stories, the single-frame tales that are told by the careful composition of the subject matter.  Christoph’s canvassed stories remind me of a modern interpretation of paintings out of the Romanticisim movement within the painting world:  Broad observations subjects within a space including a lot of context that yielded the feeling that the world is much larger.

"News of the Day" by Christoph Hetzmannseder

“News of the Day” by Christoph Hetzmannseder

It’s not hard to appreciate Christoph’s works.  There’s a simplicity to their presentation.  He favors a good deal of negative space.  There are those who aren’t comfortable with this sort of approach in their own work.  I feel there is too much of a tendency to “get close”, or “fill the frame” these days; an epidemic I blame on some bad information from self-taught photographers for self-taught photographers.  There’s nothing wrong with having a little nothingness in your photos, and Christoph’s canvasses are plain evidence of that.  But there is nothing truly simple about his approach to negative space.  He just makes it look so easy.  In truth, there is a very fine line between having too much and not enough.  I guess, in theory, one could get close and fill the frame with any one of these subjects.  By doing so, you’d remove the context and the story behind the photo.  News of the Day would simply appear to be voyeuristic, bordering on street photography.  That massive wall of greenery makes the shot seem more surreal, more like fine art.  That’s the beauty of the image, in fact.  Take away that greenery and I wouldn’t be here today writing about Christoph’s body of work.

"The Bus Stop" by Christoph Hetzmannseder

“The Bus Stop” by Christoph Hetzmannseder

Negative space can be dangerous.  It must have a purpose or it can be just as destructive as not having it at all.  In The Bus Stop, On Lines or Orientation Point (among others)we have solitary figures.  There is a common theme across these photos:  Lonliness.  Maybe it’s not a bad thing.  The woman in The Bus Stop seems perfectly content to be alone, perhaps a desirable situation in her case.  The bench is within an oasis of light, and so perhaps we understand this to be a more comfortable space than the darker areas surrounding her.  But the girl in Orientation Point certainly seems to be in an undesired situation.  All these feelings and emotions are made possible by all that negative space.  We see the context of the subject, we see what their existence within these spaces is like.  We can therefore imagine what thoughts might be going through their heads.

"Fireplug" by Christoph Hetzmannseder

“Fireplug” by Christoph Hetzmannseder

Thanks to all that negative space, which serves as a blank canvas for us to project our own interpretations and thoughts, we can establish a connection with these photos.

The photos I am exhibiting here are merely a fraction of what Christoph Hetzmannseder can do.  I am not kidding when I say that his body of work stretches to all corners of the photography spectrum.  If you aren’t inspired by these works (and I can’t imagine you’re not), take a few moments to browse his portfolio.  I’m certain you will find something in there that you will like or be inspired by.  In addition to his Flickr photostream, you can also find Christoph’s work on Getty, on 500px and Tumblr.

"Orientation Point" by Christoph Hetzmannseder

“Orientation Point” by Christoph Hetzmannseder

"Dorothy's Red Shoes" by Christoph Hetzmannseder

“Dorothy’s Red Shoes” by Christoph Hetzmannseder


About Author

D. Travis North is a professional Landscape Architect, a Freelance Photographer and founder of Shutter Photo. Ever since he picked up his first SLR, his father's Nikon N2000, he's been hooked on photography. Travis likes to photograph urban environments, architectural details and has a new-found interest in close-up photography. His work can be found at D. Travis North Photography. Follow Travis on twitter: @dtnorth.

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