Negative Space: A Positive Step Forward In Stock Photography Sales!

In this blog I thought I would address the subject of creating negative space within a photo to increase your sales in stock photography.

This subject has had little coverage within the Dreamstime blog community over the years, and yet it is a very essential and important aspect when composing your photography.

A publishing house will potentially look for artwork that has included negative space within a photo which will allow them as designers to add their own text or heading/title to the page or some other additional artwork.

What exactly is negative space?

Simply put, negative space in art or photography is the space around and between the main subject. It does not necessarily have to be blank space, it can include features such as sky, sea or grass or some other design which is not the main subject. The photo below was designed in a portrait style with an old King James' bible opened up set against a sky sunburst sun rays background, leaving enough header room or negative space for a title.

Bible light

As already mentioned above, including negative space within a photo allows designers the freedom to add their own text etc and can make the difference between your photo being used or overlooked for another file which includes the negative space that they are looking for!

Below is an example of my own design of a vintage 1950's microphone which has been superimposed into a swirling colourful pattern background, but I have intentionally included negative space to the left of the photo to allow designers the freedom to include their own text/artwork etc.

Old vintage microphone sound equipment recording studio

If you are composing photos with the thought of having your work on the front cover of a book or magazine, then creating negative space within the photo will give you a head start over other photos which are too crammed with detail that cannot be easily used or adapted by designers for publishing purposes!

The photo below was taken with the foxglove plant as the main subject set against a castle background allowing enough 'header' and 'footer' space for publishers to use as negative space for text....and was used several years ago as a front page design for a fiction novel by a well known Canadian author.

Foxglove stalk and castle towers

Once again, the photo example below was also used recently on the front cover of a family advice book, not only because the main subject suited the author/publisher's book content, but also no doubt that leaving negative space within the photo ie sky and pavement above and below the main subject, allowed for the use of a main title heading and the author's name to be included in the front page design. Leaving extra room around the main subject also allowed the publishers to crop the photo to a portrait mode which was more suited to a front cover page design, and therefore contributed to a more successful sale!

Romantic couple on holiday walk

So whether you are designing your own artwork or composing a shot for future potential use for publishing, think creatively from a publisher's point of view...have you allowed enough negative space around the main subject to not only enable potential buyers' of stock to allow for the crop/bleed factor around a page but also negative space for a title heading and other text type.

Once you start including negative space in your art this could be a positive step forward in future sales, and getting your work published on the front covers of books, novels and magazines!

So start thinking negative space!!

Photo credits: Photodynamx.

Your article must be written in English

July 25, 2019


Great useful advice; thanks!

July 25, 2019


I usually use search words such as 'isolated' &  'negative space' to describe my files which can be used as templates (isolated) or whether text can be added if required...this makes the designer's task easier if they are looking for files to adapt to their own requirements....currently there are well over 34,000 files online when you type in the words 'negative space'......thanks for comments!

July 25, 2019


I'm curious how many DT photographers use "negative space" in the description and key words, and if it works? William 

July 25, 2019


The keywords 'negative space' is most helpful.  For me, the art of developing successful keywords to get photographs noticed is of particular interest.  - I've always been using 'empty' and 'open' and so on to describe what you have so eloquently photographed and drawn attention to.  Thanks!

Related image searches
Negative related image searches