Negative Space in Photography Composition

If you find yourself reading this article, chances are that you are looking for some ideas for photo projects. Naturally, it would be good to pick a photography project that helps you grow your photography skills. In this article, one such skill, negative space, will be discussed.

negative space photo ideas

Photo by Marisa Harris

This is a compositional technique that can be used to produce eye-catching photos. When properly used, it can help improve your images.


There are three principle compositional components to a photography image.

  1. Frame. The frame is the border that is all around the rest of the image.
  2. Positive Space. The subject of the image. This is generally the item on which the camera is focused.
  3. Negative Space. The rest of the image. It is located between the positive space and the frame.

When many people go about composing an image, they concentrate their attention on the positive space. The negative space, gets very little thought. If it receives any consideration at all, it is more of an afterthought. This kind of approach can result in second-rate images. When correctly utilized, negative space can serve two very important functions:

  1. It can help in defining what the positive space is all about. Basically, it helps to tell the story of the positive space.
  2. It can improve the positive space. Essentially, the negative space helps to make the positive space more noticeable.
negative space photo tutorial

Photo by Lucas Favre

Negative space can serve to help define the positive space by furnishing additional detail. As one example, a photograph may show part of a bridge. However, there may be few details that offer any suggestions of where the bridge is based. Is it in a crowded, urban park or in a forest? We can not tell from the close-up. If the photographer were to show some of the landscape, this would create some negative space that would certainly help to much better define the positive space. As a result, the image would be improved.

While utilizing a negative space can really strengthen an image, there is one thing that must be avoided. The negative space should never be allowed to overwhelm the positive space as this would serve to deteriorate the image.

Making the positive space stick out is the other way that the negative space helps to enhance images. This is accomplished due to the fact the negative space helps to control the attention of a viewer. It does this by helping to lead the viewer’s attention to the positive space. When utilized in this fashion, the negative space is often relatively devoid of detail (this gets rid of any unproductive detail).

In short, both spaces need to be taken into consideration when figuring out how to best compose an image. Basically, both spaces are of equal importance and should be treated as such. This will help improve the quality of the images that you capture.

Your Photography Project

So, are you geared up to start a photography project? For this project, you should concentrate on capturing images where both spaces have been very carefully thought out. The goal is to carefully think about both spaces before the image is captured. This will require that you visualize the image. That is, you must imagine what the image will look like before you capture the shot.

negative space in phoography

Photo by Jonatan Pie

For this project, try capturing images of various types of subject matter. For instance, you could take shots in your garden, the city, a local park, and a national park.


This writing discussed one skill that can be used to launch a photography project. However, there are many more ideas that can help you improve your photography. Are you ready to check out some more photography ideas?

About the Author
Ron Bigelow ( has created an extensive resource of articles to help develop photography skills.

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8 responses to “Negative Space in Photography Composition”

  1. Blurvisions says:

    Good advice and thanks for reminding us to use it more often. I like how negative space makes photos more quiet and thoughtful. I had a very basic attempt at this a few months back ( and this weekend seems like a good opportunity to do some more.

  2. sandra stewart says:

    I consider negative space to be pretty much blank. space that has objects in it is not negative space. negative space would be a still life with books and a blank wall behind it. if the wall has things on it, it is not hegative., usually clouds and sky is not negative space. if it is just toatlly blue with nothing in or on it, then it would be negative.,

  3. sandra stewart says:

    negative space is nothing space. putting things in the space like back ground stuff makes it postivie space. please don[‘t confuse negative with positive space.

  4. Ken ferguson says:

    I am very impressed with this article. Negative space is something that always tends to come up in conversation when I am judging or discussing composition. This put a totally different slant on it and is very well written too. Well done!

  5. jack says:

    yeah.. we need trial and error to get best composition suitable for our style :D .. great content, informatif, just wanna share about Photography Composition, maybe its usefull ..

  6. Arif says:

    Hi, Indeed these are Great tips for a a soul who just started photography.. I wud like to suggest that if ya can publish two photographs on every tip.A Photo which is not taken as per tip and the Other one with Corrective Tips as they are already published will be more helpful.Regards

  7. shaniqua, says:

    yo yo; awes ph0t0 :))!!!

  8. Hussein Bakr says:

    Thanx for these issues and we need to focus about the effect of light on the neg.& pos. Spaces

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