Anne Darling Photography

Artistic Photography 1: Negative Space

In artistic photography, a great technique that can improve your pictures hugely, is the use of negative space. This is a compositional technique found in art in general and once you have grasped it you will begin to wonder how you managed to miss it before!

Photography Quotes

"In my view you cannot claim to have seen something until you have photographed it."

Emile Zola (1840 - 1902) French writer and amateur photographer


The shot below was taken in a busy city in China called Dalian. The young couple were huddled together in a way that blocked out any and all viewers - they were clearly in their own private world.

However, the most dominating element in this picture is the large area in front of the couple which is completely empty. This space acts as a symbol for us, as viewers. Young love can be a painful experience for some and the symbolic emptiness in the picture is an echo of something we have all experienced within our relationships at some point or other.

artistic photography - the use of rhythm in photography composition

Click the image to enlarge

Space is very important in art, in drawing and painting, but also in photography. There are always two types of space in a picture, positive space and negative space. Positive space is the shape of an object, negative space is either the space which surrounds the object or the space within it.

It's sometimes not easy at first to see negative space in the scene before you but with practise it will come. Just keep in mind that negative space is the space which you can see but which doesn't have a name. If the space you see has a name, then it is probably positive space.

Make use of negative space in your photographs if you want to create more powerful compositions. In fact, if you give more weight to the negative space, you'll find that your composition largely takes care of itself.

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More Great Quotes

"When gifts are given to me through my camera, I accept them graciously."

Minor White (1908 - 1976) American Photographer

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