A term often bandied about by photographers is ‘White Space’ but what is it?

‘White space’, which is sometimes called ‘negative space’ (which can be something different again, but let’s not complicate things) is a concept photographers use that leaves areas in an image free of your subject or any elements that you are meant to see. We often call the subject of the image; and there should always be one, the Hero.

‘Negative Space’ can work as white space allowing you to add text and a logo without detracting from your subject but it can also be used by itself to just draw your attention to the subject – which in the case below is the image of prawns on a fork with negative space all around it, done for precisely that reason.

This ‘white space’ may have a blurred background for instance that supports the image but isn’t an integral part of it, so that covering it doesn’t matter to the story and so you won’t mind losing what is there.

What you never want to do is cover your main subject with text or more!

This free or empty white space can be just as important as the main subject, it may allow the viewer’s eyes to rest and focus on the subject alone – which is why you often see an image like the one I’m using today where there’s only the subject but I’ve left space above it OR the white space may allow you to appreciate the image but also read and take in the text without distraction – this is really important when it comes to advertising.

Used correctly, this white space can really enhance the visual impact of an image, perhaps creating a sense of balance, harmony or simplicity or it can allow the subject to shine but give you space to add text in a way that doesn’t detract from the subject.

When might you want to add text?

Often as it happens. Think about sharing a quote, adding details of a launch or an event …. the list goes on and on.

I like to be sure that when I shoot for clients if we have the time then we capture a range of images as I’m fully aware of all the different sorts of images they may need over time. Images with white space are really useful when it comes to promotional posts where you need to add text. Imagine if you only had images where the text you added had to detract from your product or service? That’s never ideal. That is however one of the bonuses of working with a professional photographer.

The shot above was created in my studio in total darkness, with the buttery goodness oozing down from the prawns which were scattered with pepper and dried chillis. Got a project you’d like to explore? Give me a shout.

If you’d like to learn more about food photography come and join me on one of my free courses in July 2024 OR get in touch to enquire about courses or 1-2-1 sessions with me.

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