25 : Negative Space


All around

Negative space is defined as the "the area between and around the subjects in your photo". 

Negative space is more than just "the background" or "the part that isn't the subject". It's so much more! In photography, negative space is exaggerated to give extra space around a subject.


Using negative space thoughtfully as you compose your image can help the viewer to connect with your subject, since the subject is not crowded or cluttered with other distracting visual information. It can also impart a sense of uniqueness, loneliness, freedom, or scale.



In graphic design, negative space is often cleverly used to give an image a secondary meaning. Check out the Fedex logo, for example, where the space between the "e" and "x" creates an arrow moving forward. 


While it is not often possible to use strong shapes like this in photography, the contrast in color, texture and position of your subjects against a canvas of negative space can have striking emotional results. Sometimes, it gives the spotlight to a subject that would otherwise be mundane, other times it gives balance to a subject that needs more "breathing room" in order to be appreciated.

In this lesson we invite you to reframe your subjects with a special emphasis on the space around them. You will find the skills you have already practiced such as composition, contrast, long shots, and framing can complement this lesson. 


Creative Prompts

1. CLOSEUP - When shooting close in, allow extra space to show scale. A delicate object in a child's hands, like a ladybug, will appear even smaller and more fragile if juxtaposed with generous negative space.

2. DISTANCE - Try placing your subject against a greater expanse of background (or foreground!) than you are typically used to shooting. Sky, fields, blacktop, sand and walls work well. Step back, zoom out, angle up or down if needed.

Share your images!

As always, we look forward to seeing your images in the Facebook group! If you have never posted a picture, it's fine to start any time. The Facebook group is a positive, no-judgement zone. We also hope that reach out for advice or help if you need it!