Negative space is the area around and between the main subjects in a photo. While the main subjects naturally draw the viewer’s eye, leveraging negative space effectively can result in more intriguing and balanced compositions. Using negative space properly gives your main subjects room to breathe while also creating cohesion within the frame.
Here are some tips on using negative space for more impactful photography:
Focus on Simplicity
Too many competing elements in a photo can make it feel cluttered. Simplify the frame by removing distracting background elements and drawing more attention to the main subject using ample negative space around it. The cleaner the background, the more your subject will stand out.
Lead the Eye
Strategically place your main subjects off-center and use negative space to create a flow where the viewer’s eye naturally moves through the frame. For example, include more negative space in front of a moving subject to imply forward movement. The negative space gives the subject a place to move into.
Frame Within the Frame
Framing shots within elements of the backgrounds themselves by leveraging negative space can provide natural frames and interesting compositions. Frame moving subjects like people or vehicles by placing them between two trees, buildings, or other environmental structures.
Placing brightly colored subjects against very dark or white backgrounds makes them pop thanks to color and tonal contrast. The negative space provides separation and places full emphasis on the main subject.
Check the Balance
Be conscious of the balance between negative space and main subjects. If subjects are too small in a large empty frame they can seem lost or less impactful. Alternatively, insufficient negative space can make shots feel too cluttered.
Using negative space in photography effectively takes practice, but by keeping these tips in mind, you’ll be able to use the area around your main subjects to create more compelling photographs with visual impact.