what is negative space in photography

What is negative space in photography

Hello my lovely readers, how are you today? In this article, I will explain what is negative space in photography.

Negative space, whether is in macro, urban, or portrait photography, is used to create visual pauses and to make your viewers focus only on the prime subject. It is the easiest way to create minimalist and beautiful photographs.

Below is an in depth explanation and how to create images with negative space.

What is negative space in photography?

When you are shooting a photo of a subject, to make it stand out, you position it in a way to create room around it. This is called negative and positive space in a frame.

Negative space refers to the empty space created in the frame around your subject. Which provides a visual pause or resting place for your viewer’s eyes.

The positive space refers to your subject with which you grab your viewer’s attention. Negative and positive space combined together will help you create great and engaging compositions in your photographs.

Negative space will emphasize your main subject without cluttering the rest of the image, and drawing your viewer’s eyes to the main subject. Below are some examples of how to create images with good negative space in macro photography.

How to create images with negative space

To create images with negative space you have to either blur out the background by adjusting your camera to a wide aperture (low f-stop number), if there are other subjects behind or, position your subject on a seamless background.

water drop splashing
Image by Dirk Wohlrabe from Pixabay

In the image above, you can see that the main subject is the drop splashing from the water. Around the subject is a seamless colorful background creating a breathing room for the viewer’s eyes.

butterfly on a leaf
Image of myungho lee from Pixabay

Here is another image with great negative space. The background is heavily blurred out creating a soft green color, so that the main subject (which is the butterfly), stands out.

bluebells flower
Image by TheUjulala from Pixabay

In this image with the Bluebells, you can see that in the background are other subjects entering the frame. But, since is softly blurred out, your attention is drawn only to the main subject, which is the Bluebell flower.

These are some good examples of negative space in a photo. By creating visual pause and grabbing your viewer’s attention on your prime subject.

Now lets see some bad examples of negative space, if I can say so in these images.

How NOT to create images with negative space

To avoid cluttering the rest of the image from the main subject, try to not focus on other subjects in the background.

pine tree
Image by Zdeněk Chalupský from Pixabay

In the image above with the pine tree, there is not enough negative space. And the prime subject is unknown. I don’t know what should I look at first, on the pine cone or the needles of the tree. The image is somewhat confusing and cluttered.

desktop mouse
Desktop mouse

In this image with the mouse on the desk, you can see that the mouse is mostly in focus, but, the laptop is also entering the frame which can distract and confuse your viewers because they don’t know which is the prime subject. And also, there is not enough breathing room.

Decorative apple in a flower vase
Decorative apple in a flower vase

This is another bad example of negative space. The basket is cut out and the leaf is causing distraction. The decorative apple is in focus, but, because there is not enough space and other subjects are entering the frame, you don’t know if it is the main subject or not.

These are some of the bad examples of negative space. The last two images are made by me on purpose to show you how to avoid cluttering an image. And create engaging and stunning images which your viewers will love to see and use.

Final thoughts

Now that you know what is negative space in photography, go and practice to boost your skills.

But, remember that not only negative space will create a good photo, but there also is composition too, how you position your subject in the frame.

When you take images, you are telling a story, and by including negative space in your photos, you will make your viewers tell or guess the rest of the story beyond the frame.

Have any question or opinions, don’t hesitate to drop them below, and I will happily respond as soon as possible. Be safe and take care.

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