How to Use Negative Space in Product Photography

As an experienced commercial photographer, you will understand the term negative space and may well have a strong understanding of how it can benefit you as a product photographer. However, it can sometimes go against logic or natural instinct when you’re just starting out in this industry.

In light of this, we have created a short article highlighting exactly what negative space is and ways in which negative space can be created or used to take that product photo from good to truly spectacular.

So what do we mean by negative space?

Put simply, negative space is the empty space on an image that either surrounds the subject(s) or falls between the subject(s). In some cases, it may be a result of the natural scenery or an intentional decision made by the product photographer.

No matter the reason for negative space being there, the result can often help ensure the focus stays with the subject and stop people from being distracted by other props and activities within the wider image.

Negative space is a powerful tool for a commercial photographer and one that is incredibly flexible. There isn’t necessarily a set process to follow and it feeds off the creativity and ingenuity of the product photographer, often resulting in unique and powerful images.

Ways in which you can use negative space

There are some fantastic ways in which you can use negative space to improve a photograph. We’ve chosen to highlight a few that every product photographer will be able to utilise as part of their photography services, whether a novice or experienced professional.

Artificial negative space

Surprisingly, you can artificially create negative space during post-production. It may be that you’ve taken a great shot of your subject but feel like something is missing. Don’t be afraid to play around in editing, as the latest software lets you expand a canvas and add in negative space.

Shallow depth of field

More of an issue when working as a commercial photographer in outdoor shots, the background of a subject can often be busy and distracting. Utilising a shallow depth of field will help take that busy background out of focus and turn it into a negative space that adds value to your overall image.

Light and shadow

A product photographer should be confident working with both light and shadow. They help create dramatic and intense images that many brands really love. You can utilise light and shadow to turn a busy, complex scene into one focusing on the subject, with negative space across the rest of the image.

Make the most of the rule of thirds

The rule of thirds is the perfect partner for negative space as it genuinely helps guide where the subject should be and where the negative space will end up. It naturally creates this negative space for you to assess and decide if it works with the subject you’re trying to promote.

Avoid filling the frame

We are often tempted to try and fill the frame when creating product photographs. It may be you wish to get as much detail on there as possible, or perhaps have complementary products alongside the subject. However, less can often mean more and by using negative space instead of filling a frame, you can get some truly interesting results.