Negative Space in Photography: Beginners Guide

Updated on February 27, 2024 in Photography by

Negative Space in Photography: Beginners Guide

Photography comprises a lot of subjects and elements in the frame. In a scenario, there could be people, trees, birds, buildings, hills, cars, shoes, cloth, and more.

But if you look closely, you’ll also find empty spaces in the photo. That space in the frame is known as negative space in photography.

In this guide, I am sharing with you:

Advancing in photography will require you to learn how to master Negative space photography, so without taking any more time, let us get started.

What is Negative Space?

What is Negative Space?

Negative space in photography is the space around the subject. It is a space that helps you create dramatic effects in the frame, adjust the viewer’s focus, and create a relationship between the subject and the background.

You must remember that negative space doesn’t always mean an empty area in the frame. While sky, plain background, and wall are used in pro negative space images, the composition also involves other elements.

Elements like people, lines, pattern objects, empty spaces, etc. of the image that direct viewers’ focus towards the subject in the frame are the negative space.

Why Negative Space is important?

Negative space in photography is important because it helps direct the viewer’s attention without forcing it. It naturally shifts the viewer’s attention towards the photo’s main subject.

Negative space in photography is also used to make the subject stand out. You can see that this style is mostly used in product or fashion photography. It helps ensure that the viewer doesn’t get distracted and looks only at the model of the product in the photo.

Many professional photographers also use negative space as their photo’s main subject. This is done by introducing a lot of chaos in the frame. This chaos is known as Positive space, which is the opposite of Negative space.

Negative Space Vs Positive Space

We know that Negative Space in photography normally refers to elements that direct attention toward the subject.

Positive space in photography refers to multiple random elements in the frame complimented by some negative space.

Given all the randomness, the negative space catches the attention very easily.

Tips & Tricks To Use Negative Space


Using Negative space in photography can be very helpful. We saw that it could help you direct the focus of the viewer. It can also make the subject stand out and easy to spot.

Lastly, the negative space is used to avoid any distractions in the photo other than the subject.

Keeping this in mind, here are a few tips and tricks to using negative space as a professional photographer.

1. Frame the subject right: While ensuring that there is enough negative space in the frame, also make sure that you frame the subject right. Unless you take creative liberty to break regularity intentionally, you should make sure you frame the subject right. Common ways are framing the subject in the center or with the rule of thirds.

2. Avoid Too Many Elements: If there are too many elements in a photo, managing them can really be hard. You’ll have to either place them together, in which case making each one of them will be tough. If you spread them, there will be no or very less negative space.

3. Use Color: The color and tone of the negative space and the subject can help you make the image look even more professional. Here the photo can have complementing colors or the same color with a different tone. Testing out different styles and colors in your frame will help you scale your photography skills.

4. Use Light & Shadows: Just like colors, you can even use lights and shadows to integrate negative space in photography. One example of negative space and lights is silhouette photography

Bouns Read

Negative space in photography is one of the most common elements often used with other composition techniques. Learning and practicing it can help you capture aesthetic and professional images.

It is also used in product and model photography to grab and keep the attention. You can learn more about composition techniques in our recent guide.

Have a read, and practice various other photography techniques today.

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