Photography Element of Composition: Framing

As photographers, we take a small slice of the world around us and frame it within the viewfinder of our camera. If we like what we see, we press the shutter and record the image within the boundaries or frame of the camera’s sensor.

But we can use framing within the frame of the image to draw attention to and really highlight our subject. Framing shows the viewer what is important, and where to look in the image.

And by using elements in the surroundings for a frame, framing can also provide context to an image, giving the viewer more information about the subject. Framing can also hide elements in the scene that don’t add to the composition.

And framing helps to creates a sense of depth within an image.

#MindfulPhotoChallenge: Framing

Some common ways to use framing in your photography:

  1. Shoot through an existing frame such as a window, a door, an arch, a fence, a tunnel, etc… You can also position your subject to sit inside a frame, such as at the bottom of a slide. These types of frames provide a story-telling context to the image and add visual interest.

2. Look for natural elements in the foreground such as tree branches, shrubs, and grasses, and position yourself to frame your subject with them. For example, you can use a worm’s eye view to emphasize foreground elements.

3. Use elements in the background as a frame, such as trees or buildings.

4. Try focusing on the frame instead of your subject. Sometimes that can create an unusual and interesting image!

5. Hold a frame in the image. This can be a cutout frame, a real frame, or elements from the environment.

6. Frame your subject with space, or with a color, or with light and contrast.

7. Use a partial frame. Framing as an element of composition doesn’t have to include all four sides — you can use three sides, or even two – although perhaps two sides isn’t as universally accepted. But the idea is that you intrude on the four edges of the image with some element and close in on the subject of your photograph.

Share your images on Instagram with #mindfulphotochallenge and/or #RefocusPhotoChallenge, and tag me @ goodhartphotography.

If you enjoyed this article, you might like:

  • My full color 30-Day Photography Challenge Workbook here on Amazon.
  • My Photography Articles Listed and Sorted by Type here
  • My Mindful Photography Workshop here
  • My “A Gossamer Thread” Newsletter about photography/creativity, productivity, and joy here

Photo credits: Antonio-Janeski, Elisabeth-U, Joel-Fulgencio, Maria-Krasnova, Mathew-schwartz, and pine-watt.