Using framing photography composition ideas is a unique way to emphasize the subject you are photographing. Framing immediately brings attention to your subject.
Table to Contents
- Definition of framing in photography
- Why is framing important in photography?
- How to frame a good photograph
- What are framing photography techniques?
- What is architectural framing?
- Using environmental elements for framing in photography
- Framing photography using shapes
- Framing photography using light and shadows
- Examples of framing in photography
Definition of framing in Photography
Framing is actually defined by wikipedia as ‘a technique used to bring focus to a subject’. So, like more advanced compositions like leading lines, or golden triangles, using elements to frame your subject can really make an image a bit more interesting and engaging, and make your subject really stand out.
Why is framing is important in photography
Whether it be a very literal frame (that went through a popular “prop” phase), environmental, or structural framing, framing with light or lack of light, they all work well to bring the viewer’s eye to your subject.
How to frame a good photograph
When you find a subject you want to photograph, take a step back and look at your surroundings. How could you incorporate your location to really draw the attention to your subject?
You can use architectural elements, environmental elements, lighting, or reflections etc. These next few ideas to get your creative juices flowing.
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What are framing photography techniques?
There are quite a few different framing photography techniques that a photographer can use to make their image really stand out amongst the rest.
Having too much go on in your picture can take away from the story you are trying to tell. Use light, the environment, structures, rule of thirds and negative space to frame your photograph and really tell your story.
What is architectural framing?
Using architectural elements is probably the most obvious way to frame a subject. Using doorways, window frames, archways, framed mirrors.
I’m just thinking elements that are permanent to the environment in which you place your subject.
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I am a hobbyist, so I take many, many, many pictures of my kids. And I would say that the majority of pictures I take are in or near my home.
Use doorways to frame subjects
I could easily snap away at them doing one activity or another, but framing them using the architecture of our home brings a little more interest to the image. It also gives you a fly on the wall kind of feel, like you are peeking in on an activity (which likely I am, because I want to capture them being their genuine selves).
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Using environmental elements for framing photography
While there are definitely opportunities to use architectural elements outdoors, don’t forget about using your environment to frame your subject.
Use trees to frame
Trees often have a way of wrapping over a subject and framing the subject if placed just right. Photographing through grasses, flowers, or bushes can often bring more attention to your subject by creating a blurred foreground.
The eye tends to go toward the in focus areas of the images first, while the added dimension adds depth to the photo to make it more interesting.
Framing photography using shapes
All of these are great examples of framing in photography. You can see that sometimes there are literal shapes that make you eye go directly towards it. Other times it’s leading lines or negative space.
Just about any opening or shape you can think of can be used to frame your subject. If it forms a defined area, use it to frame your subject.
In this one I framed the shadow so that it would be accentuated as a secondary subject.
Close off part of the frame
You can even think of framing as something that closes off part of the frame. If part of your frame is covered, the viewer’s eye will go toward the more open space, which hopefully is where your subject will be placed. Look for shapes in play areas. There are tons of opportunities on playgrounds.
Here I used my son’s body to cut into the frame, making his sweet hands and caterpillar the center of attention.
Intrude on the moment
Beware that framing can also give the feeling of intruding on a moment. In this image, it gives the feeling that my little girl is being stalked. Which she is, by ME! But keep in mind the feeling you want your viewer to feel when looking at your images.
This one in particular makes me feel uncomfortable, like I’m seeing something that I shouldn’t, that she is unaware and vulnerable. Not exactly the feeling I was trying to portray in this image.
Frame photography using circles and spirals
Here, the opening of a birds nest frames the baby birds. The circle of the nest feels like a spiral taking the viewer straight to the baby birds mouth.
Use body parts to frame
In this one, my son’s arms frame his face. He had just lost his second tooth, and of course we had to document the milestone! Also notice there is nothing else in the image distracting us from his face.
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Framing photography using light and shadows
Using the available natural light or lack of to frame your subject is also effective. It is a more subtle approach to framing, in my opinion, but it is a beautiful way to highlight not only your subject, but gorgeous light.
Here, the light used makes a shape on the wall that Bray fills. If I would have moved him closer to the window, he would have been lost in the shadow. Having him in the reflected light, his face is properly exposed.
In this example, the leaf and caterpillar are framed not only by Delia’s legs, but also by the shadows and area of light. There isn’t much distraction and the viewer is drawn right to the framed subject.
The light here, makes a great shape for Sanford to snooze in. The lines are leading your straight to the dog and the subject is really being brought to the viewers attention.
The same goes for framing with shadows or darkness. Since the photograph is only lit in one place, the viewer is forced to draw their attention there.
What is an example of framing in photography?
All of the examples above are framing in photography so you can see that it covers a lot of different aspects. It’s simple, you are literally framing your subject with what you have available.
If you want to get fancy, you can use more than one element at a time. The bed is framed by the tree. Delia is both framed in the headboard and the light from the iPad.
I hope this article has given you a few new ideas when approaching composition. Framing is a fun and easy way to bring a little something extra to your storytelling.