It’s called “negative space” — but there is nothing negative about it.
In fine art, a painter or photographer strives to draw you (the viewer) in to his world. One of the easiest ways to do that is to “lose your center” — by focusing on something outside the middle of the frame. By doing that, you get to leave a beautiful space for the viewer’s imagination. By definition, negative space is the emptiness surrounding the subject – but if embraced, it can acquire its own sense of form.
The whole idea of an artist’s interpretation of a subject is to present it in a fresh way — capturing the familiar and transforming it into something radically different — making it uniquely his. Allowing negative space to breathe can create a kind of power through its own volume. As you see in Pic #3, American painter Franz Kline thoughtfully merges positive and negative spaces into the picture plane, and one effectively supports the other.
In the photograph (Pic #2) of my shoulder, my husband completely eliminates what traditionally would be my portrait, and instead gives way to the soft blurry background that creates its own weighty, curious abstraction. My face is almost irrelevant. (And that’s totally cool on days I’m not wearing makeup.)