Framing is another very easy photography composition technique to learn as it quite literally is what it says on the tin. Framing techniques in photography frame the main subject to draw the viewer’s attention and add a sense of depth to portraits. Like many techniques, framing in photography composition is often combined with other composition techniques to create more interesting images.
Frames occur naturally and are also man-made. However, you also don’t need an actual frame to frame a scene, but more on this in a moment.
Here are some examples of objects you can use for framing the main subject:
- Tree branches
- Doors and doorways
- Window frame
- Out of focus foreground objects
How to use framing in photography composition
There are many reasons why you’d use framing in different ways in photos, not just because it looks interesting. Here are four examples of frames in photos created by different image elements.
1. Framing to hide background elements
Frames are a great way to declutter an image by hiding distracting elements in the background and draw the viewer’s attention to the focal point of the image.
Your frame doesn’t need to go all the way around your subject. Just two sides is fine, as long as it draws the viewer’s eye to the subject. If the framing element is out of focus it helps even further as our eyes automatically seek the in-focus parts of the image. So using a large aperture for shallow depth of field is helpful in framing.
2. Framing in photography to create depth
Not only does a frame highlight your subject, it adds a layer to your photograph, another composition technique, which in turn creates a sense of depth.
As photographs are two dimensional representations of a three dimensional world, anything that creates depth strengthens the composition. It also creates interest for the viewer by drawing them further into the scene.
Further reading: Use layers in composition for immediately awesome photos
Framing photography examples
1. Framing to draw attention
In the photograph below, we were in a hide very close to a favorite watering hole of a herd of elephants. It was absolutely silent, except for the sounds of the bush and the snuffling and rumbling of the elephants as they kicked up dust around the edge of a dry watering hole.
I wanted to capture where we were and the awesomeness of being so close to these beautiful animals. So I stepped back, decided on my composition to include my fella looking through the gap in the hide, and waited for an elephant to step into frame. Quite literally.
2. Framing in photography to tell a story
Sometimes using framing in composition helps to tell the story behind the photograph.
In this photograph of a puppy, the full story was that, during the wedding reception, the bride and groom heard from neighbours that their new puppy had got out of the property and was seen running down the road.
Fortunately, the wedding reception was being held very close to home, so a few wedding party members went out looking for the puppy. It took over an hour to find her. When they did find her, they brought her to the worried bride, who cried with relief that she’d been found. A circle of very relieved wedding guests gathered around her as everyone celebrated the return of their puppy.
3. Framing in photography to add context
Frames can also add context to your image.
Although, we can tell by the silhouette of the bride and groom that this is a wedding portrait, placing them in the open doorway of the church creates an unmistakable frame. The type of framing strengthens the context of the image, as well as adding to the composition.
3. Framing with body parts
If you’re out in the middle of nowhere, or on a beach without a frame in sight, you can still frame your subject. You don’t need a structure to be present for portrait photography framing, because body parts, such as arms and legs, make great frames too.
The thing about photography that makes people think that it’s hard, is that there are so many choices. Just think of all the composition techniques alone to choose from. BUT I feel that’s what makes photography more interesting.
You don’t need to remember everything in the beginning. In fact, how could you? So, the best approach is to learn one compositional technique at a time and then, once you’re really comfortable with it, move on to the next.
Photography composition is a habit. So once you know something…like really, really know it…you won’t have to think about it anymore. Before you realise it, you’ll naturally start combining three or more composition techniques as a matter of course. Here are another 18 photography composition techniques I know you’ll enjoy.
Leave a comment
Have you tried to use framing in photography creatively? Tell us in the comments – it’s always great to hear new ideas.
If this article has helped you to understand how to use framing in photography composition, please let me know in the comments – I love to hear good news!