We developed a novel concept of using a negative acoustic lens to increase the acceptance angle of an unfocused large-area ultrasonic transducer (detector), leading to more than twofold improvement of the tangential resolution in both thermoacoustic and photoacoustic tomography. In both thermoacoustic and photoacoustic tomography, for a given transducer bandwidth, the aperture size of the detector affects the tangential resolution greatly when the object of interest is near the detector surface. We were able to overcome such tangential resolution deterioration by attaching an acoustic concave lens, made of acrylic in front of the flat detector surface. We then quantified the tangential resolution improvement using phantom images. We also showed that the use of the negative lens preserves the shape of an object after the image is reconstructed.