The Ultimate P52 | Week 7 | Negative Space

Negative space is a powerful way to draw attention quickly to your subject. Surrounded by “emptiness” the subject’s lines, shape, and colors stand out quickly and focus the viewer’s attention. This concept gives the subject room to breathe and hold visual weight in an image.  Like most other photography techniques, there are multiple ways to achieve negative space within an image. 

A simple headshot or still life against a plain backdrop is an easy way to begin. If you don’t have a human subject, feel free to use a canine or feline stand-in, or find a vase or other knick-knack. Be mindful of your composition here. A fully centered composition will often feel very flat with a negative space image, and you will want to take care to compose on the rule of thirds or other dynamic composition lines. 

As we learned in Week 2, using a shallow depth of field is a great way to isolate your subject from the background. The deep blur of the background using a shallow DOF is a great way to introduce negative space to your images, and especially when used in conjunction with a macro or other very close focusing lens, you can nearly blur the entire background all together.

But if shooting macro or close up isn’t your thing, there are still plenty of ways to incorporate negative space. Images involving the sky are a great way to frame a subject, whether nature or structures. A wide angle lens can help with this, but certainly not necessary at all. 

Other ways to make a negative space image to work is to have a relatively monochrome background, even if it isn’t fully blurred out. 

To be honest, I added this challenge in because negative space is not something I often seek out, unless it is a side effect of shooting macro. However, I do follow a couple of photographers to do amazing negative space work, and I would encourage you to browse their images for more inspiration. Note that these artists use more than just negative space in their work, but much of their work falls into this category. You’ll notice that the black and white treatments in particular really help with the negative spacing and it is something that you could consider when setting up your own photographs.

Follow along with my Project 52 in 2023

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