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Mastering Photographic Composition and Visual Storytelling

Lesson 48 of 50

Negative Space


Mastering Photographic Composition and Visual Storytelling

Lesson 48 of 50

Negative Space


Lesson Info

Negative Space

negative space is the area around the subject, the subject sometimes being referred to his positive space. Now the term itself is a little misleading, as correctly used negative space defines your point of interest and creates a balanced composition. So what do I mean by correctly used? Well, toe Answer that question. Let's look at some examples where it's been used badly in this image. The subject is positioned to close to the edge of frame, which creates an imbalance. This image shows the opposite. Too much space. The viewer is left wandering aimlessly, wondering what the point of the photo is. The skill, then, is defining what is too little on what is too much as usual. There's no right or wrong answer. As you have heard me say many times throughout this course, It depends on the story you want to tell. One of my favorite wildlife subjects is bears, and this is one of my favorite images of a bad your notice. There's a lot of negative space. In fact, it makes up half the frame, but i...

n this example, when you compare the amount and shape of negative space, you'll see it perfectly balanced by the positives base made up by the Bear on the Rock. This is a spirit back on my story, which is that of an apparition emerging from the ether, is clearly defined by the way I've used positive and negative space in the composition. And here's another example. I usually avoid photographing wildlife from the high viewpoint. However, on this occasion the aerial view of the negative space it creates work perfectly. First, it gives the image context straightaway. We know the crocodile is in its natural habitat. Secondly, it frames the shape of the crocodile. So in this example, the negative space has made sure the unusual angle doesn't create an abstract image and has defined the visual narrative. Negative space is an important element in composition, but assessing how to use it effectively can be hard to define. Often I find it's more feeling than a mathematical formula. When I was starting out and activity, I found useful was looking at how other photographers and artists used negative space and then practicing those observations. When I was out in the field off for a while, I found I was using it instinctively. So the best advice I can give is practice, practice, practice no

Class Description



  • Compose a shot consistently and effectively
  • Create artistic, powerful images quickly
  • Gain confidence in building narrative
  • Identify what stories you’re drawn to photograph
  • Brainstorm and develop concepts for creative shots
  • Trust your instincts when approaching a subject


CreativeLive is partnering with Chris Weston to offer you his Complete Photography Master Course. This is the second class in the series.

Today, everybody has a camera, but that doesn’t mean everyone’s a photographer. Chris Weston will show you how to do all the other stuff – how to “see” an image, tap into your creativity, and compose a photograph that makes the subject look as good in print as it does in real life.

This class isn’t about cameras, it’s about you – the photographer. It will break free your creative mind, get you thinking about narrative rather than object, and show you how to apply simple artistic skills that turn that next click into a powerful photograph.

Learn how to approach photography like a pro and start creating great pictures straight away. With in-the-field lessons, case studies and powerful tips and techniques, you’ll quickly unleash your creativity and gain confidence in expressing yourself through your camera.


  • Beginner photographers
  • First time DSLR or mirrorless camera users
  • Any photographer who wants to hone their artistic skills


Named one of the world's most influential wildlife photographers, Chris Weston takes a contemporary approach to photography. After launching his career in 2001, the Fujifilm ambassador's images have graced the pages of top publications like BBC, The Times, Outdoor Photography, Practical Photography, and Digital Photography. As a photography educator, Chris has written over 20 photography books, along with leading photo tours and online workshops.


Silvia Garcia

Excellent ! Will see it many times to digest all the messages here. Important info on composition theory. Very well explained. Go to the essence of photography. Thanks, Chris !

a Creativelive Student

Absolute must to watch! Perhaps few times, as is packed with all the information you need to know to make your photography to the next level. I think it is the most comprehensive class on composition. Fantastic!


fabulous course no matter how advanced you are.. LEarned so much from it. I'll watch it again as it contains so much.