How to Use Negative Space in Your Photography

negative space
by Eliza Donovan

I’m sure you’ve often admired minimalist photos and wondered how the photographer made them look so cool. Most of the time the secret is proper use of negative space.

First of all, let me remind you what negative space is. Basically, it’s the space between and around objects in a photo. The key to using it effectively is to understand that it’s very important for your composition because it surrounds your subject and thus is sort of part of the subject.┬áIf you’ll look at the image that comes with this post, you’ll see that the flower is positive space and the sky is negative space.

The Functions of Negative Space

The main function of negative space is to define your main subject. It also helps the viewer’s eye to focus on your subject because it provides the space around it. A photo with too little negative space looks cluttered and is difficult for our brains to process. Negative space gives breathing room and creates composition and balances the photo.

Using Negative Space

Like I said, the main purpose of negative space is to enhance the composition of your photos. It’s especially effective when you go for minimalism. Our eye can single out objects even in a crowded scene and focus on them, but the camera can’t do that. That’s why a lot of scenes that we think look good don’t look at all great when you take a photo of them. Negative space can help you improve your photos if you concentrate on it instead of the object when composing your photos. Doing that will make you pay more attention to composition rather than just seeing the object the way humans (not camera lenses) see it.

When you are touching up and cropping your photo, make sure the positive and negative spaces create a balanced composition where the eye is drawn to the subject. Play with the cropping and you’ll understand negative space better than ever before.


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