Guest Photo Challenge: Negative Space by Sue Judd

The very talented and creative photo blogger Sue Judd accepted to host today’s challenge at Lost in Translation which made me very happy and honoured. Sue came up with the theme “negative space” and if you read the article bellow, you’ll know what she meant.

Sue Judd:

sue judd

Negative Space

Negative space (sometimes referred to as white space) is the space in your image that does not contain your main subject (the positive space). It might be clear space with no detail or almost none, perhaps predominantly black or white, or it  might be a blurred background that contrasts with your (in focus) subject. Negative space is perhaps the single most important aspect that helps the subject in your work – the element of interest – stand out and attract the viewer’s attention.

When used properly, it will provide natural balance against the positive space in a scene, drawing our eye to the main subject and providing breathing space, something we don’t have if the image is too cluttered. The thing is, we don’t ‘see’ negative space naturally, we are too intent on concentrating on our subject. But it tends to help if you keep the composition as simple as possible. So how to achieve this?

In these first two examples, I have positioned my subjects in front of plain backgrounds – the negative space here is ’empty’, there is no detail to distract from the main subject.




Tulip bowing out

Another way to create negative space is to use a wide aperture, thus throwing your background out of focus.


School yourself to see negative space…patches of open sky, large areas of shadow, the blur of a wide aperture, the compression of objects in your frame created by using a long lens. But bear in mind that negative space does have it’s own visual ‘weight’….try to balance the elements, and beware of too much emptiness…you want to draw attention to your subject, not lose it completely!


Hopefully, these examples will spur you on to create your own efforts. Above all, have some fun!

53 Comments on “Guest Photo Challenge: Negative Space by Sue Judd

  1. Hmm, very interesting. Great post Sue.
    Amazingly, I took a few shots where the negative space was important on Friday. Not something I normally think about – or don’t realise I do. I’ll get a post ready soon!


  2. A great array of photos distinctly different from each other and offering a neat definition of a slightly mysterious concept. The window light is my favourite I think.

    I also enjoyed reading a piece of extended prose from you: a rare treat!


  3. Thoughtfully explained, Sue. I envy you growing up around cameras. No such item existed in my home when I was small. But then, we find our way, don’t we? You know I’m not a technician and simply enjoy beautiful photos. I sometimes achieve that background blurring on my macro setting but it’s largely down to chance. 🙂 The course you mention sounds interesting. I do mean to experiment more, one of these days…
    I hardly dare mention tulips 🙂 🙂


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  5. ha, and I was wondering what a ‘negative space’ was when I sneaked peaked Paula’s challenge list. well explained Sue, now I have to dig up some photos.


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        • Au contraire chère amie. Je les aime bien. Peut-être que je ne suis pas toujours du genre: “Ossom”. Mais je ne ferais pas autant de commentaires si je ne les aimais pas. 🙂 Ah! 😉


          • Je voudrais te demander qqch. Quand tu “cliques” like sur ma reponse ou commentaire qc q ca veut dire que tu es d’accor ou q tu as lu simplement?

            Liked by 1 person

            • Les deux: je suis d’accord (sinon je ne mettrais pas de like) et j’ai lu (sinon je ne serais pas d’accord) It’s like the americans’ “copy that” or “roger that”. It also means that I have nothing more to say, otherwise I would comment. 🙂 C’est un peu… la fin de cette conversation, et vite, vite, où est la conversation suivante. Par exemple: Ton genou va mieux, j’espère? (I would be desperate in your case) Bjo


      • 2014? ça fait déjà longtemps. 🙂 Le concept “negative space” m’avait beaucoup intéressé, au-delà de la photographie. Par ex. que serait le negative space d’une histoire, d’une nouvelle, d’un roman? 🙂


        • Je ne sais pas pourquoi on a cette conversation ici au dessous du “post” qui n’est pas le mien. On a du converser au dessous de mon post sur espace negative plus recent (la bougie, tu l’a omise intentionnellement?)


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