Be Negative! - tyneholm
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Be Negative!

Assignment S43

Pictures are sometimes criticized for having too much “negative space”-large areas of the frame with no “content:’ But negative space is an important compositional tool in street photography and we should embrace it. 

Typically, negative space covers large areas of the frame, often made up of a light or dark shade, or a solid color. This space could induce feelings of calmness, harmony, solitude, contemplation, relaxation, isolation, or loneliness, but it can also give the main subject (the “positive space”) more importance. 

When you’re evaluating the scene in front of you, look around it and see how you can use negative space to give your image a very different look and feel to the alternative, perhaps more cluttered image of the same subject. 

With this assignment you should look to produce between four and six finished images that you think display great use of negative space; show them to friends and family or share them online to get feedback. 

View the images


  • Use negative space to impose a sense of scale, making your subject more or less significant.
  • Seek out viewpoints that isolate your subject by contrasting it with its surroundings.
  • If your negative space can incorporate leading lines that take the viewer to the main subject, so much the better.

Field Notes

  • Explore the work of Chinese street photographer, Fan Ho, who uses this concept to great effect.
  • Think of using negative space for a minimalist approach-less is more!