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What Is Framing In Photography? How To Use Framing (With Examples)

Use this quick guide and learn how to use framing in your photography to improve your photos.

What is framing? 

Framing is the art of manipulating different elements in relation to a subject to draw focus to the subject in the image.

For example, some obvious examples could be placing your subject in a doorway, an archway or a tunnel.

However there are less obvious ways of framing such as using colour, shadows and nature. 

How does framing help your photography?

Framing can help your photography in various ways. It helps to draw focus to your subject so you can control the viewers attention.

You can also provide context and create a sense of depth to the picture so the viewer can imagine themselves in the scene. 

Tell a story and provide context

“A picture is worth a thousand words”- and it should be your goal to show that. Every photo should have a story behind it and you can use framing to tell that story and provide context. 

For example, you can use foreground and background elements to show the viewer the setting and it gives them a sense of location.

Look at the above picture for example. By framing the picture using the windshield to separate the background and foreground they have achieved a sense of location.

Clearly the foreground is the inside of a car and the background shows the winding road.

Focus your viewers eye to the subject

In most pictures you will have one main subject in the photo which is the focal point of the image. 

As the subject is the most important aspect of the image you would want to draw focus to it by guiding your viewers eyes. You can do this by framing. 

Take this image for example. The subject is the person walking down the spiralling stairs and the triangle shape of the building around them works well to draw focus to the subject.

You also have the added framing of the staircase itself. 

All of the above works to focus attention on the subject. 

Here’s another great example of how you can incorporate framing by using your surroundings. The triangular shapes clearly frame the subject of the image which is the ferry / boat. 

Now it doesn’t have to be just triangles! These 2 examples just happened to be. 

Frames can be of any shape and they can take any form as long as they help to draw focus to the subject. 

Ways to use framing

Shapes 

Shapes are an easy one to use. Find natural shapes in the environment like arches, circles, squares etc. Any will do as long as they frame your subject.

Leading lines

This can be similar to shapes but it’s probably worth its own point. The point is that you use elements in your image to lead the audience’s eye to the subject.

Below is a good example of how the railings and metal bars, as well as the walkway, work as leading lines to lead you to the subject which is the 2 people at the end of the walkway.

Foreground and background

We’ve already gone over this earlier in the “providing context section”. But here’s another good example of using foreground and background elements to provide context to an image. 

It clearly uses the leaves in the foreground and background to show that the subject is surrounded by foliage.

This adds to the effect of the environment. You know for certain they are in a very green environment or they could even be in a very urban environment and just found this small section of greenery.

But by framing it like this it can give the effect that they are in a very green environment. 

Doors and windows

These are pretty self explanatory but they work as easy frames for subjects.

This picture clearly gives you a sense of where you are but also draws your focus to the subject which is the plane wing and the skies.

How can you make your own frames? 

Sometimes you might not find frames naturally occuring in a scene that you like. 

In this case you can get creative and make your own by using props. 

For example, if you want more of an outdoorsy vibe to the picture just pick up some leaves, branches or flowers and hold them in the your picture how you want and take the shot. 

If you want to focus on a face or a beauty shot, you can use a piece of paper, rip a hole in the middle and place your subject in the hole!

You can even use shadows to help frame subjects. Just hold whatever object you need to block out light on certain parts of your image to create a frame of any shape you want. 

The opportunities are endless, so go out there, get creative and experiment.

We hope you found this helpful! As always we appreciate your time for reading this.

– Photography Pursuits Team

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