I’m not talking about negative in a bad way. The negative I’m talking about is the negative space that helps define the subject of your image. Generally speaking, negative space is the area in the photo that is not the main subject. This could be the sky, or a blurred background that helps define the subject and keeps the eye drawn to the main subject. It is often used as a compositional element to add balance to the image. Many times this negative space can be as powerful as the subject itself by adding contrast or helping to define the subject. Take a look at this picture of these birds sitting on this rusted roof. The negative space of the sky and the roof are in contrast and pull your eye to the line of birds moving diagonally across the frame.
In this example, the black edges of the slot canyon echo the smooth lines of the canyon walls and anchor the corners of the image while keeping the eyes moving through the brighter part of the image in the middle.
Negative space doesn’t need to be devoid of texture or substance. In this picture of a canoe rack in Georgetown, the darker areas surrounding the canoes are full of detail and texture but are clearly not the subject of the image. The darker and slightly less sharp area does do a great job in adding balance to the composition.
Here’s a few more examples of using negative space that add balance and weight to the compositions while focusing attention on the main subject.