How to use negative space in photography

How to use Negative space in photography, a blog post
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How to use negative space in photography, a blog post

We’ve all seen the use of negative space in photography. Maybe we didn’t realize what it was called, but it’s so common that you have seen it. It’s a technique I use a lot. This post is going to explain why I use negative space purposefully for commercial and branding photography.

Example of negative and positive space using soap from figs and feathers farm

This is going to be our example photo I’m going to refer back to a few times in the following post.

What is a negative space in a photo?

Negative space is the area that surrounds a subject. It’s something you can purposefully use in the composition of a photo or any art. It can be a simple background or a clear sky. It’s typically a repeating pattern that helps your subject stand out and be clear from a simple glance.

Despite the misleading name, negative space isn’t a negative or bad thing. It acts positively because it helps the subject or hero of a photo, like a story, be clear and easily identifiable.

In the photo above, the first half of the photo is the negative space. There’s nothing there so your eye scans downwards looking for subjects and things to look at.

How is it related to the rule of space

It’s related to the rule of space, another compositional element. The rule of space says giving an image purposeful space can give a sense of movement (despite being a still image). By giving an image appropriate space you can have you draw your eye your subject easier or give it a sense of movement.

These compositional elements help your image be stronger, by having an obvious subject or focal point, and more interesting, by having the eye move around an image.

What is positive space?

Positive space is the area that jumps out from the surrounding or the negative space. It is commonly the subject of the photo or other supporting details that help tell the story of the photo.

In the photo above, the bottom half of the photo is an example of a positive space. The bar of soap in the subject, and it is surrounded by the mint and lavender which are supportive details that tell what the soap is made of.

Why I purposely use negative space in commercial photos

Negative space is something I’m always thinking about when shooting commercial or branding photos. Why? Because I not only want the photos to be visually interesting, but useful to you as a client. Having negative space makes it easy to add in text boxes do you can use them for websites, printed promotions, or ads.

As a branding photographer and small business owner, I promote my services on social platforms, run a website, and growing business. I’m mindful of which images are useful in performing specific tasks. That’s why in any client consultation, I ask what the purpose of the photos are. That way,  I can give you a tailoed gallery perfect for your purposes.

Below is another example of negative space being used as a website hero image.

Example of negative space using photo from Figs and Feathers farm


Having clear goals for a photoshoot help to get you images that are perfectly suited for your needs. Negative space is branding photography is one of my favorite goto compositional practices because I find that it’s versatile for many commercial practices.

Please leave a comment below if you have any questions about Negative Space and how to use it in photography!


Photography design, How to use negative space as a compositional element in photography

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