The Use of Negative Space in Photography

Negative space in photography is the space around the main subject of an image.  The use of negative space is an element of composition that has been used for hundreds of years in art and design.  The concept is equally useful in photography and can transform an average image into an outstanding photograph.  I personally love negative space in an image.  I found the technique was especially powerful when I switched to a full frame camera.  Click through the slideshow below to view some examples of my photography displaying the use of negative space:

What is Negative Space in Photography?

Negative space in a photograph refers to the area surrounding the main subject (the positive space).  The negative space can draw emphasis to the main subject of an image by removing any clutter and distraction.  Used effectively negative space will lead the viewers eyes to the main subject of the photo.  

I like images that are simple in composition and uncomplicated and this is exactly what negative space is good for.  Stripping a photo down to the bare basics of the subject and it's surroundings can produce an end image that is both artistic and pleasing to the eye.  When taking such photographs imagine that the negative space of an image is as important as the main subject.

How to Incorporate Negative Space into your Photos

Negative space images are uncomplicated by nature and rely on the concepts of simplicity and minimalism.  Negative space often breaks many of the traditional photographic rules of composition.  When framing your photos be generous with the amount of surrounding space you leave.  Experiment with composition until you have the right balance of positive and negative space.  Remember less is often more.  

Examples of Negative Space by Geraint Rowland Photography

I find that the use of negative space can benefit a wide range of photography types from Street Photography, Architecture, Landscapes, Portraits and Abstracts.  Street Photography by its nature can be hectic with a lot of different elements going on in a photo.  The use of negative space can bring an artistic and calming feel to a street photo with some planning.  With this image of a man walking over a bridge in Miraflores, Lima at Sunset I exaggerated the space above the bridge.  Using a wide angle lens I made use of the interesting sky surrounding Christ the Redeemer in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.  The use of negative space can add scale to landscape images such as this capture of people walking the dunes in Huacachina, Ica, Peru.  Negative space works very well in abstract images such as this minimal ocean abstract taken in Senegal. Negative space is also a good way of drawing attention to the subject, such as with this billboard advertising strippers in Las Vegas.  Finally negative space can be used for comic effect like in this funny photo of a giraffe at a zoo in Lima, Peru.

More of my travel photography can be found on my websiteInstagramFacebook Page and my Flickr account.  If you are interested in collaborating on future projects, or would like to purchase a print, please send me an email: