In general I am a fan of tighter compositions, but there are some subject matters that are just crying out for space. A large area of foreground or background can lend an enormous amount of emphasis to an image. Placing a small subject in a large space helps you to tell a story. If you place a person in one of the bottom corners you might suggest loneliness or vulnerability, whereas placing them at the top may well imply the opposite.
This photograph of a child playing on the beach in the winter suggests that he is really enjoying his freedom. The photograph was taken from quite a height (maybe 25 feet) to isolate the sand from the confusing background and the fact that he is nearer the right of the frame suggests that he has a lot more room to head into. The oldest rule about composition – the rule of thirds – is being observed.
If the space around the child in the photograph was full of details then the impact of the composition would be lost. You would inevitably give the image more than one subject and spoil the simplicity which is the real secret of the picture. Of course if the child’s mother was in another area of the otherwise empty frame then that would give another message altogether, the space would still be making you think – but differently.
Cluttered photographs are much harder to pull off, simple images are often more effective and this image proves that simple doesn’t necessarily mean tight.