Negative Space: Photos with an Epic, Minimalist Look (VIDEO)

The use of negative space is a powerful compositional tool employed by experienced outdoor photographers to give photos a minimalist quality that really grabs attention, whether you're shooting landscapes, seascapes, or all sorts of nature photos. This quick and easy tutorial demonstrates everything you need to know in less than five minutes.

Today's how-to video was produced by our friends at the Viewfinder Mastery YouTube channel, an online community of photographers and educators who share interesting techniques that enable you expand your vision and the types of images you shoot. This episode will convince you that negative can be super positive.

This behind-the-scenes lesson takes place during an inspiring sailing adventure in Northern Norway with Matt Anderson who is the channel's Director and Lead Instructor. He notes that shooting on the water is "the perfect location for practicing with negative space photography and composing with minimalism in mind.

Don't worry if you don't have access to the sea because everything you'll learn can be applied to shooting in the field. After briefly introducing his motley shipmates, Anderson explains the concept like this: "Negative space is closely related to minimalism and it emphasizes not just the subject but also the empty space around the subject."

What makes this style so compelling is this: Although the viewer's eyes may focus on a central element, they can't help but notice the vast area of emptiness that defines this solitary subject. In short, regardless of whatever form this featureless portion of the frame takes (on the water or on the ground) it helps you tell  story by providing definition and emphasis to the key object in the shot.

While demonstrating how to accomplish this style of photography Anderson notes that it "requires a single focal point of some kind, and that person or object is considered the positive space." The featureless area in the frame, be it a blank sky, an empty field, or even a white background in the studio, is the negative space that can be artfully employed to accentuate the main focal point of the scene.

According to Anderson, the negative space should be "impossible to miss and occupy at least 50% of the frame." In other words, you want this space to sort of steal the show. His clear advice is illustrated with beautiful imagery that will provide all the motivation you need for give this unique form of composition a try.

Be sure to visit the Viewfinder Master YouTube channel, and take a look at another tutorial we posted, explaining how to shoot sensuous portrait photographs without flash. All you need are a few candles and two mirrors.