What Is Positive And Negative Space In Photography

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When learning most photography composition, you may have come across the technique of using negative infinite. Well, to have negative space in a photo, you besides need positive space. Yet, positive infinite in photography is not discussed as much as negative space.


Information technology’s well-nigh as if by composing with negative space in mind, positive space composition is taken care of.

Only information technology’s not.


Because how you lot use positive space in photography composition forms the middle of the image, it’southward actually important to get information technology right. And that’due south what nosotros’ll explore today.

If you’re non familiar with negative space, it might be a skilful idea to check out our tutorial on information technology before getting into how it works with positive infinite.


Further reading: Using negative space in photography composition

i. What is positive space?

Firstly, positive space has nothing to do with being optimistic, or with light and dark. The usual significant of negative and positive doesn’t apply when we’re talking about infinite in photography. Neither one is amend than the other. They’re simply the two types of space that make upwardly an image.

Positive infinite in a photo is the subject area, or subjects (in that location doesn’t have to exist just one), and other important details that stand up out in a photograph. It’southward the main accent of an image, fifty-fifty if information technology takes up but a modest part of the epitome.


Then, naturally, all photos take positive space, because all photos have a subject.

Without a field of study, all you have is negative space, in which example, the negative infinite is the subject field and so is actually the positive space.

And so yous can have a photo without negative space, for case when you fill the frame with the subject. But you can’t have a photo without positive infinite.

How to use space in photos


The blue sky is the negative infinite around the paraglider, the positive space.

2. Using positive space in photography limerick

The trick to using positive space in limerick is first to make up one’s mind on what you lot want to say with your image.

This is why composition is then important in photography. Knowing how to expose an prototype or focus on a field of study or shoot in manual, is fine, only if you don’t plan the limerick of your photo, it will never be a Mona Lisa. It may every bit well be a stick figure with a blank stare.

Okay, peradventure that’southward a bit extreme, just you go what I mean. Skillful photography limerick is the secret sauce!


Composition is more than just a practical tool to direct the viewer and help them determine the subject of the photo with techniques such equally:

  • Leading lines
  • Rule of thirds

It’s also the fundamental ingredient to creating emotion in an epitome. If an image doesn’t evoke some kind of emotion in the viewer, it will never be a not bad image.

This is where the use of positive and negative spaces in photography becomes of import. How you use space triggers dissimilar emotions in photos.

And we’ll get to the “how to” in just a minute.


Further reading: How to use leading lines for awesome photography limerick

3. What does negative infinite do in a photo with positive infinite?

In a nutshell, the role of negative infinite is to gear up the stage for positive space. Because
it’s the space around the positive space, information technology makes the positive space stand out.

  • Positive space is the leading lady/homo
  • Negative space is the support act

A lot of negative infinite in an image creates:

  • A sense of scale – the less negative space in that location is, the more ascendant the subject field (positive space) becomes
  • Feelings of serenity, loneliness, peace, majesty or even being lost

So negative infinite helps to tell the story, which is why how you frame an image is so important.


Further reading:
Why the rule of space is and then powerful in photography limerick

Using balance of positive space and negative space for storytelling

Although the elephant is the smallest part of the paradigm, it is the subject. The hide window forms a frame within a frame to draw attention to the subject, as does the direction of my fella’s gaze. Blurring the foreground makes creates the negative space around the main subject of the paradigm.

How to create negative space

As I’ve written a tutorial on negative space, I won’t go into particular here, just in summary, negative space tin can be created with the use of:


  • Actual space – empty space effectually your subject area and where you place your subject in the space
  • Color – a solid patch of color behind the subject
  • Shallow depth of field – create a blurred background behind the subject area

Farther reading: The piece of cake way to a beautifully blurry background

4. How practice you use positive and negative spaces?

While at that place’due south no correct or wrong way to combine negative and positive space in photography, it’southward an inescapable part of every photo, whether yous program information technology or not.

Which is why it’s essential to pay attention to this of import limerick technique.

Getting into the details of how yous utilize positive and negative space is the fun function, because this is where y’all get to come across how photography limerick is actually a style of thinking. It’s a organization, alanguage of visual storytelling, rather than private concepts applied to a photo.

No limerick technique is more than interwoven with other elements of composition than the utilize of space in photography to tell a story or highlight the bulletin of a photo.


Here’s why…

How the dominion of thirds uses positive space and negative infinite

Negative infinite in a photo tin can give the field of study room to breathe if information technology’s in front end of the subject (positive space). Conversely the negative infinite can box in the subject field (positive infinite) if it is backside the subject field, forcing the subject upwards against or close to the side of the frame. This creates tension.

So, the composition drives home the bulletin of the photograph, depending on how you position your subject (positive space) within the frame using the rule of thirds.

Further reading: Why y’all need to know the dominion of thirds, and how easy it is

Negative space behind subject creates tension


In the photograph in a higher place, the out of focus clock imagery on the pillar behind Helen was my inspiration for theme. Tension is created by placing the negative space behind the subject area to underline the message of time running out. Incidentally, this photo was taken during gilded hour on the last day of the yr, and so time was quite literally running out for that year!

Subject has room to breathe with negative space in front

For this prototype, shot in the reverse direction, a niggling earlier I placed Helen to the right of the frame looking into space on the left, giving her room to exhale inside the composition. The out of focus triumphant figure on the pillar in the background and the light of the setting sun adds to the positive emotion in this image, making it very different from the one to a higher place.

Rest in photography limerick

When both negative space and positive space are equal, at that place’south residuum. Imbalance can introduce tension.

Visual weight

Remainder in an image is affected by how much positive space versus negative infinite is used. Negative infinite, similar positive space, has visual weight.


The more than positive space yous add together to an image, the bigger the negative space volition be and vice versa. The bigger chemical element will concur more visual weight.

For example, a human existence seems puny when photographed at the base of a vast mountain filling the background.

Further reading: Essential tips for creating residual in composition

Colour or black and white

Color, or the lack of it, can as well impact on the balance betwixt positive and negative infinite.

A black and white image, stripped of busy color, becomes nearly shape, tone and low-cal. This can change the relationship between subject area and groundwork, every bit well as the feeling in the image.


Farther reading:

Black and white photography tips for beginners

Using color in photography limerick for standout photos

5. Filling the frame with positive space

The same subject can evoke different emotions depending on how the positive space and negative space are used in an image. So, how you fill, or don’t make full, the frame changes the feeling of a photo.

Filling the frame with positive space of
several similarly shaped or colored objects, an order or design could emerge, which feels calm. Such equally a:


  • Grocer’south stand of fruit
  • Traffic jam on a highway viewed from above

Farther reading:

Fill the frame for photos with touch – how, when, why

Pattern in photography composition makes photos interesting

Filling the frame with positive space of a
lot of random objects
will make the epitome feel very decorated, such as:

  • Crowded, pedestrian filled sidewalks
  • A flock of birds in flight

The same subjects can feel small-scale and vulnerable when there’s just one in frame. So, a
small positive space surrounded by a vast negative infinite, such as:


  • Just i person in the altitude on an empty sidewalk
  • Ane bird flight across a vast, cloudless sky

However, having simply one subject in frame doesn’t necessarily create vulnerability, as the emotion is effected by how much the positive infinite fills the frame. So with very little negative space apositive space that’s not busy, but fills the frame can bring simplicity and minimalism to the image. Photographing either the pedestrian or the bird close upwards, filling the frame, will change the feeling completely.

Farther reading: How to utilise simplicity in photography composition

Bad framing makes the subject lose impact


These two photos of a baby elephant suckling were taken seconds autonomously and demonstrate how the use of positive space and negative space makes all the difference to a photo. In the photo beneath, I cut out all negative infinite by filling the frame with the subject. I likewise converted the image to blackness and white to further reduce any distractions from the positive infinite.

Fill the frame with positive space for simplicity in composition


6. Positive and negative space do

The best mode to encounter the bear on of positive and negative infinite in photography is to revisit quondam photos and look at them with fresh optics.

Try different crops to see how the framing impacts the:

  • Dominance of the subject
  • Feeling of the photograph

Perhaps you’ll come upward with a stronger limerick that might have been missing before. Or maybe information technology’s just different.

Either fashion, with this simple exercise, you’ll learn a lot well-nigh how the utilize of space evokes emotion.

seven. Wrapping up positive space in photography limerick

So, the magic lies in how you utilise the negative space and positive space inside your composition.


Learning the language of composition unlocks the richness of storytelling and takes your photography to the side by side level.

Exit a annotate

If y’all have any questions almost using positive space in photography composition, permit usa know in the comments.

Also, we love expert news, and then if our positive and negative infinite tips accept helped you to understand how infinite affects limerick, share that too.

Volition this photography tutorial help you to use positive space in photography composition?

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Source: https://thelenslounge.com/positive-space-photography-composition/

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