What Does Framing Mean in Photography

Framing in Photography

Last Updated on December 22, 2021 | In Rules of Composition by Stefano Caioni Leave a Comment

If you’re wondering what is framing in photography you’re in the right place. These days the framing technique is often seen on Instagram, and this trend has gained great popularity.

‘Framing’ is, a technique that helps you bring focus on your subject. As a photographer, you aim at bringing attention to a particular point or subject in your photos. Being the subject a person, a pet, a tree, or any other object you can think of, you’re often trying to isolate it from the rest of your image. Using framing you can tell a story, you can bring context to a moment, and literally you can obtain several different items on the scene to create a frame for your subject and compose your shot with it.

In this article let’s discover more about what framing means in photography and how to use framing to create better compositions.

Related: Photography Composition

What Does Framing Mean in Photography

Intro to Framing In Photography

Framing is a compositional technique that uses natural elements in the scene to bring attention and highlight the main subject of a picture.

For instance – You can use a door, window, grass, trees, a hole in the wall, lights or shapes to frame a subject. This technique will help you to make your subject stand out.

With framing you can enhance the importance and significance of the subject in your photos and make your images become more interesting. The viewer’s eye will be attracted to the framed elements thanks to the increased aesthetic value. In fact the ultimate goal of this technique is to create a higher visual importance to the specific subjects in frame.

For example – if you capture an architecture behind a fence. Now, a viewer is focusing on the building itself without being distracted by other elements. The fence is evoking an emblematic feeling. Hence, your image is reflecting something extra.

Framing in Photography

Framing Helps Creating Interesting Compositions

Framing makes a photo interesting by removing distractions or secondary elements that are less interesting. It creates symmetry and balance, but, at the same time, the frame leaves a footprint in the mind of the viewer.

It’s very easy to use this compositional method because the framing pattern is present all around us. Once you start seeing frames in the real word is really hard to unsee them. It’s one of those things that need a little bit of training for the eye, to start recognizing but after some practice it will be become automatic for the eye to spot frames everywhere.

I think that once you start using it, it will change the way you approach photography and you look at composition because it will expand your creative options by a lot because frames are literally everywhere, from tree branches to doors, windows, fences and so on. Let’s take a look at some tips to learn how to use framing in your pictures.


Framing and Leading The Eye of The Viewer

As we said, framing can help a viewer to focus on a particular subject. But sometimes, a composition can have two or more elements inside the frame and a viewer may fail to understand the real purpose behind the shot.

So you can use framing in combination with leading lines, to tell the viewer exactly where to look and what’s important in the photo. You can put your subject inside the frame and the viewer will easily understand – what your image is trying to express.

leading lines

So you can experiment framing in different ways, moving your self and trying different angles. You can blur the foreground or the background. It doesn’t mean that you have to keep a frame perfectly around your subject. You can frame either side of the subject. You should remember that the main purpose of framing is to make an image engaging. So, the viewer indulges on your photo a little longer.

Elements of Framing in Photography

Geometric Shapes

Geometric shapes mean different types of shapes. But, the shape must have a sense of completeness. It can be a square, triangle, circle, or a rectangle. The shape will be around your subject and it would be obvious.

For Instance – you see an insect in grassy land. Now, you can make the circling grass a frame to capture the insect. This will take a viewer’s attention completely on the insect.

Natural Elements

Nature has so many interesting and beautiful frames. It’s a skill to find out a perfect frame from the heart of the Nature. Trees, bushes, mountains, grasses, formations of stones, flowers, branches, rivers, deserts, plants, and more elements can be found in nature.

Furthermore, you can also use weather conditions to form an interesting frame. Rainy weather or foggy weather can help you to make a frame.

For instance – You capture a car’s headlight on a foggy road. Here, the car is the subject and the foggy weather becomes secondary.

Architectural Elements

Man-made architectures can provide you with great ideas to form a frame. You can use doors, windows, tunnels, car windows, train compartments, holes in the walls, railings, and more places to capture a subject with a frame.

framing composition

The most interesting architectural element is your house. You can experience so many moments in the house. If you use a door frame or a keyhole to capture a moment, it would be surely interesting. In reality, architectural elements always have some stories behind them. It’s your job is to capture the moment inside the right frame. That’s all you need, to shoot a memorable image.

Framing With Lights and Shadows

Lights and shadows create some beautiful and subtle frames. But, it’s not so easy to use lights or shadows. Natural light or artificial light can be used to form a frame. You can also use shadows to frame your subject.

Now, lights or shadows can be used in two ways.

Framing in Photography

First – you can focus your subject using the ray of light. At this moment, a shadow may not be so important. The light itself can lead the eye of the viewer.

Second – you can use shadows to hide the irrelevant things around your subject. In that case, your subject must be under proper light. Here, shadows are automatically helping a viewer to focus on the subject.

See more examples of framing in photography here.

In Conclusion

Now you know more about framing and when your out and about, taking photos in nature or in any environment, look for elements to use as frames for your subject.

The more you practice the more you’ll notice that framing is easier than it seems at first. Everything around you can be used as a frame for your photography composition. All you need to do is use your imagination and get creative.

It’s time to get out and take photos. Will you use natural elements such as the branches of a tree or maybe you’ll take advantage of an actual fence?

Let us know in the comments below!

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