The area of a photograph that is not taken up by the subject(s) is known as negative space. It can also be called "empty space" or "white space," and it has a big influence on the balance of the image.
Negative space can be used to provide an attractive contrast to the main subject(s) and direct the viewer's eye to them. It is also used to establish a sense of depth, as well as a feeling of simplicity and minimalism. When the subject(s) occupy only a small section of the frame, the image can be either imbued with a sense of peace and tranquility or the intense visual tension.
Overall, negative space is an important compositional element in photography, and its creative use can lead to photographs that are visually engaging, balanced, and aesthetically pleasing.
This was shot in a foggy morning at Nick's Cove, California. The negative space above and below the pier, creates minimalistic composition, conveying the sense of peace and tranquility.
This was shot in cypress swamps in Louisiana. The dark negative space around the frame naturally showcases the bright lit trees in the center.
This was shot in Backwaters of Kerala, India. The negative space around the fishermen, creates a simple composition, focusing viewers' eyes immediately on the fishermen.
This was shot in Li River, Guilin, China. The vast negative space of color and contrast that occupied by the wake, creates an intense visual tension on the tiny speed boat at the bottom of the image.