We’re in the middle of teaching an online travel photography class right now, and one topic we are exploring is negative and positive space in compositions. What is negative space? The simplest way to think about it is the large unoccupied space around your subject. The smaller subject would be the positive space in the image. Negative space can be a solid color or contain objects. But negative space should not have other subjects that compete with the main subject.
How does negative space work in a composition? Large areas of negative space in an image drawn attention to the smaller, more isolated subject. The viewer becomes even more curious about the small subject surrounded by negative space. Your eye will drift through the negative space areas in the image, but always come back to the subject. The contrast in size and scale between subject and negative space engage the viewer. Feelings of isolation, importance or solitude can be conveyed.
Negative space is often used in landscapes, but it can be used in any type of images like portraits or travel photography.
And your image can have more than one subject surrounded by negative space. Take a look at this image from Monument Valley. Remember, you don’t always have to follow the rule of thirds. Try using large amounts of negative space in your composition to draw the viewer to your subject.