• Alison Price

What is negative space?

In the first of many guest blogs, I am delighted to introduce Rowan Williams, owner of dog photography business Pooch & Pineapple.

Professional photography is one of the most important investments you can make in your business. With the world operating so much online these days, the battle to stand out amongst so many competitors is becoming increasingly difficult. Beautiful and professional photography sympathetic to your brand is essential for both service and product-based business, but more so the latter, as a decision whether to purchase your products will inevitably be made based on an image of it.

When I know a client is about to embark on a photoshoot for their business, I always remind them to ask the photographer to give me some negative space to place other graphical elements into... logos, headlines, text etc. But what is it? Over to Rowan...

What does the term 'negative space' mean?

Negative space is a term used in photography, design, sculpture or any other creative pursuit that refers to an area in an image that doesn’t contain anything. While it is quite literally an area of nothingness within an image, it is considered equally as important as the part of an image that does contain something. You may also see it referred to a white space.

Positive space is the opposite of negative space, which is the part of the image that contains the detail i.e. a dog, a product, a person, etc.

Simply put, positive space is the actual subject while negative space is the area surrounding the subject. The empty space acts as breathing room for your eyes. Too little negative space results in cluttered and busy photographs with every element in the photo screaming for the viewer’s attention.

Why is negative space useful in photos?

Using both negative and positive space is helpful to provide balance within an image. It is also an essential part of the photo for graphic designers, allowing them space to place logos, text and other graphical elements into whilst remaining legible.

Negative space rejects the eye, while positive space draws the eye to it. Positive space (aka an area of detail) is aggressive and powerful. Negative space is much more subdued, even soothing. So unless you’re specifically after a very busy, high energy image, positive space should be used in small doses.

Negative space is helpful to convey emotion, especially calming, low energy emotions.

When thinking about the subject of your photo, the negative space around the subject adds definition and drama. It’s the visual version of a pause in the notes of music. It reduces the negative impact of a busy composition by acting as a buffer, an area in which the eye can rest.

It can also add to the mystery, it invites the viewer to make up the rest of the story and can greatly affect the emotion, the mood of the photo.

Having large spans of empty space can really draw the viewer in, which can be especially helpful when using images on social media.

How to effectively add negative space to your photos

+ Start by identifying a main subject; like a dog, your product, or a person. This will be your positive space.

+ Adjust the frame of your image until your main subject is all alone, surrounded by nothing but negative space. (A low perspective is great for this; by lying down on the ground, you can frame your subject against the sky).

+ Eliminate as much colour as possible. Just one or two colours really help to emphasise the negative space and add impact to your subject.

+ Position your main subject toward the edge of the composition. You can try putting the subject at a rule of thirds intersection or along a gridline.

+ Be careful not to include any distracting elements in the background as this can take the simplicity out of the shot.

Examples of images with negative space

About Rowan

Business Biography

Pooch & Pineapple Dog Photography creates colourful, eye-catching photos packed with personality for dog lovers and pet brands.

Founder Rowan Williams has been a professional photographer since 2015 and lives in Sheffield with her large rescue dog George.

Rowan strives to tell stories with her images, and likes to get to know her clients, making the photoshoot as relaxed and fun as possible.

Having previously worked in marketing, and qualified with The Chartered Institute of Marketing, Rowan is passionate about creating images that truly capture the essence of her clients, whether that's a beloved pet or a pet business.

Personal Biography

Rowan Williams, is a dog photographer living in Sheffield with her rescue dogs George and Dana. After working in the corporate marketing world for 10 years, Rowan turned her passion into profit by retraining to become a photographer. Rowan specialises in taking colourful, natural photos that are packed with personality. She works with both pet owners and pet businesses.

Links & Contact Details

Email: pooch@andpineapple.com

Website: www.poochandpineapple.com

Instagram: www.instagram.com/poochnpineapple (@poochnpineapple)

Facebook: www.facebook.com/poochandpineapple (@poochandpineapple)

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