The Magic Frame: Isolation



When composing a photograph, I have often heard it say – isolate and simplify.

I spoke of simplicity the last time that I wrote about “The Magic Frame”. Let’s go into isolation. What they do not mean, when they speak of isolation, is that you go to a desert, or a lonely mountain and start shooting. That is a viable option for those who want to go off and become hermits. It is also a good option if the intent is to shoot isolated and lonely places.

What they mean, is that you need to isolate the central element, or elements, in a photograph and concentrate on them.

In my earlier days, my photos used to be a jumble of elements put together in a rather awkward fashion. I think it also reflected the state of my mind, where I wanted to have everything. I wanted it all – mystical insight, science, nature, literature, money, the hermit life, power, sex, no sex (because girls those days all wanted marriage). Life was a jumble and possibly this reflected in my photographs.

Over time, as I have learned, sadly, to make a few choices, I learned to say ‘nay’.

I would say that the same approach applies to composition. What do you want to focus on? A single element, or more?

If you want to include more than one element, then how do they balance out and interact with each other? Do they exist in a state of dynamic tension, or do they exist in harmonious balance?

How do you use empty space?

In the photograph above (badly edited, I know), I essentially focused on one element – the fisherman. The wide spaces of the water and the sky balanced each other, in my view, and helped to create a sense of wildness and emptiness.

There is one central element in this picture.

Simplicity goes with isolation when making a photograph.


  1. I love the concept of empty space, Rajiv. In fact, I appreciate the reality of it even more. Seeing a photograph of the thing I crave both for intellectual and physical happiness is a gift I cling to. Your work with the fisherman is pure eye candy for me. I’m drawn to the feelings it inspires. Quiet, contemplative, soul pacifying existence.
    Lovely, lovely work.

    1. Thanks very much… When I arrived at the lake, it was cold and raining. I looked around, and everything seemed bleak. And, there was this chap, in the middle of it all.

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