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#capturewith challenge 10-20th January - Negative Space

What is "Negative space" in photography?

The phrase negative space might sound complicated, but it’s actually an essential element of many spectacular images. It's great to practice negative space and capture balanced and eye-catching compositions.

Negative space simply refers to areas of a composition that are empty, it’s where nothing is really happening.

fot. Anna Janecka

In photography, negative space is often made up of below elements:

  • Water

  • Sky

  • Walls

  • Sand

These elements tend to fade easily into the background, which is why they make such great negative space.

Positive space versus negative space

Positive space is the opposite of negative space, it usually steals the spotlight. Positive space is the area of a photo that includes elements of interest and the area where the viewer’s eye goes first.

In the photo on the left, there is plenty of positive space and not much negative space. The buildings and the trees all act as positive spaces, also the clouds provide some positive space. The biggest amount of negative space here is the sky, which takes up a tiny portion of the shot.

fot. Anna Janecka

Positive space can be anything for example:

  • People

  • Buildings

  • Wildlife

  • Mountains

Regardless of which type is your preference, it's good to know how to use both types of space to create a balanced composition.

Negative space in food photography

Find the balance using negative space. Thanks to the "empty area" in your frame you can easily highlight the hero and bring all the attention to the food details. The main subject/dish should be prioritised in terms of focus and lighting or even visibility.

Negative space in food photography it's not only an empty area in your frame but also a beautifully textured empty plate or a bowl, which can add character and value to your scene.

fot. Anna Janecka

This technique is the best for minimalistic composition eg. restaurant photography, drink photography or cookbook shots. This is also a great technique for beginners, because in the beginning we usually don't have a big selection props and we have little experience in composition and telling the story.

Negative space tips and tricks

Let the scene dictate your negative and positive space combination

Every scene has a different ratio of negative to positive space.

As a photographer, you can zoom in and out and change the composition as you like. You can crop to highlight some parts of the scene, or leave a bigger frame full of negative space.

The photos below present how you can achieve different effect by changing the angle of your camera.

fot. Anna Janecka

Use negative space to balance out positive space

A key goal of photographic composition is to achieve visual balance. You want your images to feel complete and satisfying. To achieve balance try to identify your positive space, then create an opposite to achieve a negative space.

That's why you should experiment by adding and removing elements to achieve the desired photo. The below examples present this perfectly. Both photos are great and it's up to you what you want to show - positive or negative space.

fot. Anna Janecka

Experiment with minimalism

Minimalist photography focuses on simplicity and its artistic style is best described by the affirmative "less is more." Minimalistic compositions use negative space to achieve a great effect. These compositions are the best examples of negative space.

fot. Anna Janecka

As a photographer, you should explore and practice creating both negative and positive compositions. Take a look around you, it doesn't matter if you are in the woods, in the city centre or on a bus. Try to identify negative and positive spaces, notice the differences and decide which one works better. for you

Can't wait to see your negative space entries.

Click below to read about the challenge's rules.


If you have any questions or struggle with any subject, send me a DM on my Instagram or email me. I will do my best to answer and help.


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