Framing does exactly what the word implies. By strategically placing sections of manmade or natural shapes around a main subject, a frame is formed. Items encompassed within the frame become more of a focal point. The frame the photographer creates can encircle the entire subject or flow around its parts. Finding the proper shape, form or line to lead the viewer from the frame to the subject is what takes practice.

The primary function of the frame is to draw attention to the subject. There should be a logical connection between the two. For instance, a stone arch framing a cobblestone street go hand in hand. Yet framing is used for other purposes. Reasons that come to mind are to hide distracting elements or to fill in areas that otherwise may lack interest. A classic example is a blank blue sky hidden by overhanging branches that frame a lone barn. The bonus is it also gives depth to the image.

Frames can be anything that work to enhance the focal point of the picture. Vaseline smeared around the outside of a filter creates a dreamlike frame when photographing people. Out of focus color becomes a frame when photographing flowers. Trees on the left and/or right side of an image enclose the subject. The interior of a church shot through its open doorway acts both as a leading line and frame to center the viewer’s attention to the interior. Look for ways to create positive space that draws the eye to the subject. Be it a full or partial frame, enclose your subject to give it compositional impact.



    A frame isn’t worth a darn without something to frame and being in the right spot at the right time makes all the difference in the world. Once again, Russ blows me away with a breathtaking image as only he can do. And then shares his secrets with the world. Well done!

    A couple of years ago, I took a photo of a lion at the zoo. The bushes where I was standing with my long lens were annoying but as it turned out the blur of the bushes in the foreground actually framed the lion’s head shot. Until I read this article, I considered the image technically ill shot, but now I have to rethink this. Thanks Russ for helping me see things differently.

    Wow! Love the ideas. Espcially the “dream” idea. While framing is tough, it seems like getting the right “luck” to have everything fall can be challenging, but these tips will certainly help me in looking in the right places.


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