Add an Element of Art Design Into Your Photos - Positive-Negative Space

January 04, 2015  •  Leave a Comment

In compositions of photos, as in art, the proportion of positive and negative space can be used to emphasize the subjects. Positive space is the area in the image that is the subject, while negative space is the area around the subject. These can be balanced, or one can be dominating, depending on what your photograph’s statement is. 

When I captured the image “Puzzle in the Sky”, I wanted to show the different fragments of buildings and parts of canopies as pieces of puzzles in the sky. Thus, the upper portion of this image has more negative space, to give room for the puzzle pieces to fit into. 

Puzzle in the SkyPuzzle in the SkyInteraction between several structures.

In the photo “Embrace”, the main subject is the rock formation enclosing the slot canyon, and this positive space rightly dominates the composition. However, some viewers see the negative space in the shape of a fish, as the two sides of the canyon also embrace it. 

EmbraceEmbraceEmbracing sandstone rock formation in Lower Antelope Canyon.

The abstract image “Urban Tuxedo” uses balanced positive and negative spaces to convey its message. The positive space shows the urban structures, yet the negative space is equally needed to complete the artwork, providing the outer “tuxedo” part of the composition.

Urban TuxedoUrban TuxedoUrban architecture turned into a fashionable tuxedo.

Although the examples I provided above are all in black and white, this is not a necessary requirement for the application of positive-negative spaces in an image’s design. The next time you’re composing your photographs, take a look at the positive and negative spaces and see how you can use them to add emphasis to your images. 

 


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