Negative space refers to an image with empty space around the subject matter. It occurs when a photograph of a person, place, or item does not fill the entire frame. The subject is only a portion of the picture, leaving the rest of the image blank.
Negative space brings an image into balance. It provides contrast. It provides beauty. It can also force attention onto a subject. When there is nothing else to look at in a picture aside from the subject, the eye is drawn to the right location.
Here are a few photographers that show the beauty in negative space:
1. Chris Burkard
Chris Burkard is a photographer, speaker, and director with over three million Instagram followers. He commonly posts photographs of mountains, cliffs, beaches, and trees with negative space made of sand, water, sunshine, and clouds. He prefers to focus on imagery with a focused subject matter as opposed to complex images.
2. Jim Zuckerman
Jim Zuckerman has been featured in hundreds of publications, has written twenty-two books on photography, has been included in photo exhibitions throughout the country, and teaches online courses about photography. In one of his series on composition, he speaks about the importance of using negative space in his work, which consists of wildlife, castles, and cathedrals. He commonly zooms out on his subjects in order to capture the nature behind them, whether that is a sky or blades of grass.
3. Jimmy Chin
Jimmy Chin is a National Geographic Photographer with nearly two million Instagram followers. He is also a professional climber, mountaineer, and skier, which is why a lot of his photographs use snowfall as negative space to emphasize the subject of the photo.
4. Lizzie Peirce
Lizzie is a photographer with over forty-thousand followers on Instagram. She also runs her own YouTube channel that contains an enlightening video about the positive effects of using negative space when composing photos. She explains that the technique basically breaks down into snapping a picture with a lot of empty space in it. She goes on to explain how negative space helps the subject shine through because it is clean and uncluttered, which decreases the chances of distraction.
5. Theron Humphrey
Theron Humphrey is a photographer with over one million Instagram followers. He embarks on cross-country trips in order to take stunning photographs in new locations. He has used negative space in a lot of pictures taken of himself (and his dog!) on beaches and in the desert.
6. Paul Nicklen
Paul Nicklen is a contributing photographer to National Geographic with 4.7 Instagram followers. His account is filled with breathtaking photographs of sea creatures (with water used as negative space) and arctic animals (with snow and ice used as negative space).
7. Dylan Furst
Dylan Furst is a photographer and filmmaker with one million Instagram followers. He has posted dozens of snapshots of nature using mist, fog, and trees as negative space. His use of the technique assures that the subject matter pops in every single picture taken.
8. Hannes Becker
Hannes Becker is a photographer with over one million Instagram followers who specializes in the outdoors, adventures, and landscapes. He has photos of open roads with sunsets as negative space, mountains with fog as negative space, and cabins with the water as negative space.
9. Adam Senatori
Adam Senatori uses negative space in most of his photographs. One of his most recent pictures shows himself in a giant pile of leaves (which acts as negative space surrounding him on all sides). He also posts frequent pictures of nature, zoomed out far from the subject in order to capture the full beauty of the background.
All of these photographers are unique, but they have one thing in common. They are each capable of showing the beauty in negative space!