Space, the Final Frontier (Ok...Not Really)

How to make your image subject really pop by emphasizing negative space.

Negative Space ExamplesEmphasizing negative space is an excellent tactic for a photographer. The negative space is the “not stuff” part of your image. It is what allows the viewer to really focus on the subject.

Using negative space in your image is really rather simple. The idea is that your subject has space to “breathe”. As a general rule, it is usually nice to have your positive space (or your subject) fill up anywhere from one third to two-thirds of your page (depending on your subject, of course). But if you are trying to emphasize the negative space, you might make your subject only take up one fourth or less of your image.

As you may have discovered when you applied the rule of thirds to your images, the subject was off center and you usually want the subject facing inward. This is also true for our space element because there is often so much negative space that you really want to see where the subject is going or looking.

In some images, having a lot of negative space gives the viewer some information about where the subject is. For example, if your subject is a hiker, the negative space might be a mountain scene. If your subject is a dog, it might be a grassy hill at a park. (In examples 2 and 3, you see some context about the location in which the objects are taken.

Another bonus of this negative space element is that you usually end up with rather simple photos, which also makes for rather dramatic photos. Since there is a lot of space around your subject, this makes it easy to focus in on the subject and what they are doing.

So here is a basic recap: back away from your subject so that it is smaller than you might normally have it so that there is a lot of space around them. Be sure that your negative space (or background) is on the simple side so that it does not steel too much attention away from the subject. 


This Week’s Assignment:

Take 2 good pictures that utilize this element of negative space. Remember, your subject will be relatively small (positive space) and your background will be relatively simple (negative space). If you feel proud of your pictures, choose your best shot and post it to Instagram with #DigitalArtTeacher. Take at least 10 photos for each subject. Go explore some space!