For every Food Blogger or Food Photographer, it is essential to know how to use composition techniques to create beautiful food images. One of my most favorite techniques of all is negative space. It’s so simple yet so strong. It transforms a picture from good to outstanding. It’s also a very powerful technique in storytelling. It catches the viewer’s attention and evokes emotions.
You don’t need to fill up your image with lots of props that no ‘boring’ or empty space is in your pics. Giving the image some negative space lets room to breathe and enables the viewer to focus on the important part of the photo. The food.
What is Negative Space in Food Photography
Negative space refers to the space around your main subject in the photo. It’s sometimes defined as white or blank space in photography, but it doesn’t mean that everything around your food needs to be white and empty. Negative space can be made up by a background which simply doesn’t distract from the food.
Positive space, on the contrarily, is the main subject in your food photos, your food. Positive and negative space needs to be in the right balance to create a beautiful photo. The right balance is defined by the story you want to tell and your style.
So, negative space as a compositional technique creates a relationship between the food and everything else in your photo. It makes the photo feeling alive and lets the viewer connect emotionally and guides their eyes through the photo. Negative space directs the eyes to the food first before they wander through the details of the negative space.
Images without negative space, have no main subject to focus on. So the eyes don’t stop moving and bounce between the subjects in the photo like in the photo below.
Why use Negative Space in Food Photography
There are three good reasons why integrating negative space in your food photography is a good idea.
- Strong composition. Negative space creates harmony and adds interest to your photos. When you crowd your pictures too much, your food won’t be able to be the star. It gives room to breathe and creates balance.
- Emphasize your food. By having negative space around your main subject, you draw attention to your food. Too many props or dominating colors in the negative space, distract the viewer from focussing on the food.
- Add copy. Especially if you are working for magazines or take product photos, you should leave some space for copy. Also when you create pins for Pinterest, it’s easier to add some text when you left some space.
How to use negative space in food photography
Negative space in food photography can be created by using props and colors which don’t distract from the food but emphasize it. They should be chosen to support the story you want to tell. Here are two examples where you see lots of negative space in the photo.
In the photo below you see that the positive space, the cheesecake, takes up about 20% of the image. The colors and props in the negative space are neutral and don’t distract from the food.
The next example is interesting because you can see that there is not just one main subject in the photo. Images with negative space don’t need to have just one main subject. You can have more like I have three main subjects although the doughnut in the middle is the one where the most focus is on.
Advanced food photographers pay the same attention to the background as on the main subject. Beginners tend to mainly focus on the main subject and forget about the background. Although that’s a mistake, it’s normal to do that if someone doesn’t have lots of experience as a food photographer.
How about you? Do you use negative space as a composition technique? Drop a comment below and let me know what you think!
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