Negative space with the Golden Ratio Compositions


Negative space (or Passive space) is a room around the subject. It helps to move the attention to the main hero, and it gives the space “to breathe”, so the image doesn’t look too busy and filled with many props. 

Objects in the negative space should not overwhelm the viewer in terms of colour, contrast or size.

It’s not always easy to incorporate negative space, because on the other side, you need to create a visual balance in your images. If you include certain props on one side, you just can’t leave en empty space on the other side – you need to find the right balance. 

Too much space in the scene can make the subject feel isolated, and too less space can make us feel too busy, rushed and the subject might get lost.


Does negative space has to be an empty area?

No, it doesn’t. The negative space can contain other props or elements, such as windows, walls, glass props (this is what I love using). 

The purpose of the negative space is to help the main hero to stand out. Therefore, all the objects or props in the negative space can’t take the attention from the main subject. We place them there to add into the storytelling, to add the interest, but not to steal the attention from our hero. 

Elements in the negative space should help you to lead the viewer’s eye towards the hero star of the image. 


Using Golden Ratio Compositions for negative space

This is something I love using in my images. It helps me find the right balance of how much negative space I should include in the images. It’s actually very simple, so let’s have a look at how to use the Golden ratio compositions to find the balance. 

In the images below, you can see that I use these compositions to frame the negative space.

Key take-away

  • negative space is a room/space around the main subject
  • it has an important role, as it leads the viewer’s eye towards the main hero
  • objects in the negative space should not be overwhelming by the colour, size or a contrast
  • I love incorporating the negative space into the composition, and frame it by visual lines. 
  • the negative space can be an empty area, or it can include windows, chairs, floor, and other objects that don’t take the attention from the main hero.
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