- Jul 5th. 2012
- By Thomas Shue
A Little Negative Space Please
I have been making pictures since I was a kid, along the way you picked up a few things, some of them become a habit. Some habits like “Fill The Frame” are great, however you need to explore all compositions when doing portraits. I was given a tip a long time ago and it some how stuck with me. The tip was on making great portraits, “I should fill the frame”. I tend to agree with this advice in most situations, however I want to say, some of the most breathtaking portraits I have seen are ones doing the exact opposite. Today’s post is about using “Negative Space” to make the subject a smaller element in the background.
There is more to “Negative Space” than just showing a scene in which your subject is just an element placed somewhere on the background. So let’s define Negative Space. “Negative space, is the space around and between the subject(‘s) of an image.” “The use of negative space is a key element of artistic composition”. Negative space is simply the area in an image that has no particular detail. Negative space used for composition could hold leading lines or other supporting elements that help emphasize the main subject.
Some Things To Consider When Using Negative Space.
The background in an image with negative space is used for balance. Most of the time you want the background to be in focus. I see many photographers try to shoot wide open apertures so the background is blurry and doesn’t compete with the main subject. Well this isn’t necessarily a good thing. Try some shots with the background in focus, it can help tell the story. Be sure to consider what direction your subject is facing. You don’t want your subject to be facing away from the negative space, make sure the subject is at least facing forward, however in most situations you want them facing the negative space or the composition wont make much sense. Remember you are trying to use the negative space for balance and tell a story. When you balance an image using negative space, be sure to try to divide the frame into thirds, one third is the subject and two thirds is negative space, not an exacting rule just a guideline.
Negative space is used for other reasons as well, for example if you are shooting for advertisement you need to consider the use of negative space for text. The use of negative space in in this context could be Bokeh (blurred background) or just a solid color. You would consider the use of negative space if you are shooting artwork for magazine cover an album/CD cover, maybe an image for a website or a banner ad. Negative space is a very important concept to understand and you should be mindful when you are making pictures.
Lastly there is no firm set of rules in photography, you can compose an image anyway you like. You can spray and pray and some random images will be great and have impact. The rules I shard with you are a guideline, use them for inspiration. Use the rules to advance your photography, explore all areas of information and use it to make better pictures.
I leave you with some examples of “Negative Space”Thanks for coming to my blog. Thomas Shue
Image by Patrick Logan
Image by ZachAncell
Image by brookeshaden
Image by Julian Holtom
Image by bkiwik