If you have any experience in the field of art, you might be familiar with the term negative space. Negative space is all the space that surrounds the subject (the positive space), and when taking pictures you can use it to help bring more attention to your subject.
When taking snapshots, most people simply have their subject in the middle of the frame. This is one way to focus on the subject. But why not increase the negative space to actually draw the eye to the subject even more. In the picture shown, the negative space is clean and uncluttered so the eye is quickly drawn to the surfer. This example shows how the negative space highlights the positive space (the surfer), ultimately keeping the focus on the subject. More and more these days, the creative world is seeing an emergence of artists creating positive spaces and shapes that, in turn, cleverly carve out shapes in negative space intentionally. And the results can be stunning.
Unfortunately it’s something that’s understood by relatively few people, but with a little bit of practice it can help you look at your photos in a new way, transforming your compositions and producing truly breathtaking results.
When framing your photo, adjust your composition until the positive and negative spaces in the shot feel well balanced against one another. Be generous with the amount of empty space you leave, and don’t feel you have to cram something interesting into every square inch of the frame. To get the best use of your negative space, be sure it is clean and uncluttered. Also, play with the placement and size of your subject within the frame of your picture.
Mastering the use of negative space takes time. We’re so used to focusing on the main subject in a scene that it can seem strange to treat it almost as an afterthought. However, doing so will make you consider each element in your scene more carefully, leading to much stronger compositions. You’ll be surprised at the many different looks you can create!