Using Negative Space for More Compelling Travel & Nature Photography (VIDEO)

We all strive to capture attention-grabbing images that guide a viewer’s eyes through a scene. This is particularly true when shooting complicated travel and nature photographs with a number of different elements.

One powerful technique for more compelling images is to simplify one’s photographs through the use of negative space. In the video below you learn exactly what negative space means, and how to use this method for interesting compositions with a different look.

Pat Kay is an Australian travel photographer with an appreciation for “visual patterns.” This quick tutorial is the second episode in his new series devoted to “deconstructing visual language,” and it includes a number of very valuable tips.

Kay says negative space is one of the visual patterns he relies upon most, and he defines the concept as “The deliberate inclusion of empty space for the purpose of contrasting filled space.” In short, this method relies upon scrutinizing a scene in a different way and keeping things simple.

In breaking down the difference between empty space—i.e. negative space—and what he calls filled space or “positive space,” Kay explains how both concepts can work in tandem to achieve more impactful compositions with a unique look.

To put all this in terms that my Art Director wife would immediately understand, Kay explains that negative space gives positive space room to breathe, “and is the cornerstone of “visual hierarchy.” If this sounds like a philosophical artistic concept that means little in general practice, nothing could be further from the truth.

As Kay demonstrates this method of create interesting visual patterns, you’ll see how easy it is to put this practical method to use. And if you’re curious about the type of gear he uses to make images like these, he provides a complete list in the description beneath the video.

To watch Kay’s first episode in this series, and others in the future, just take a look at his YouTube channel. And if you missed our recent tutorial on focusing techniques for travel and nature photography, be sure to check it out.